Ali Emiri Efendi (1854-1924)
Ali Emîrî Efendi was born in Diyarbakır, one of the most significant areas among the Ottoman provinces. He was not exposed to a conventional education. Much like all Tanzimat period employees, his life was spent traversing the empire’s geography from one end to the other. He collected rare books in the course of his travels. The ones he could not acquire, he copied by hand to save them being forever lost. For Ali Emîrî Efendi, books were not a collection item but rather a tool for discovery through reading. He was not interested in the movements of modernization during the period in which he lived. His greatest passion was to familiarize new generations with the Ottoman-Turkish heritage. To accomplish this, he established the Millet Library and donated his books to his “nation.”
Ali Emîrî Efendi was a poet, a historian, a biographer and a publisher. He was particularly recognized as the book connoisseur who rediscovered Dîvânu Lugâti’t-Türk. He was never married, never had his photograph taken and never set foot in Beyoğlu. He spent his life reading and writing, in the company of his books and cats.