An Englishwoman in a Turkish Harem
Grace Ellison (d.1935) was a journalist and suffragette with a fascination for Turkish culture. This book, first published in 1915, is a collection of accounts originally written for the Daily Telegraph about her stay in the harem of a Turkish nobleman. Keen to dispel the sensationalist Western view of the harem, Ellison paints an intimate portrait of the luxurious but secluded life of women in their segregated portion of the household. Subjects covered include fashion, social events, polygamy and the bonds between family members. As well as describing life within the harem, the author provides an impassioned critical commentary on the lives and treatment of women in Turkey, attending a suffragette meeting and discussing the role of religion and nationalism in women's lives. Finishing as the First World War begins, this is a captivating snapshot of Turkish society in transition from the Ottoman era to becoming a modern republic.