Jalil Mammadguluzadeh Biography

Jalil Mammadguluzadeh, a renowned Azerbaijani writer and satirist, was a prominent figure in shaping the literary landscape of Azerbaijan and Iran. Born to Iranian parents in present-day Azerbaijan, Mammadguluzadeh’s diverse background greatly influenced his work. Before embarking on his writing career, he spent many years as a teacher in rural schools and even studied law. Alongside his colleagues, he acquired a publishing house and assumed the role of editor for the satire magazine ‘Molla Nasraddin.’ Through this publication, he not only showcased his talent as an author of short stories, essays, novels, and dramas but also revolutionized the style of satire in Azerbaijani and Iranian writing. Mammadguluzadeh’s activism extended beyond his literary pursuits, as he fought for the preservation and purification of the Azeri language. Despite his significant contributions, he faced controversy, with ‘Molla Nasraddin’ being banned in various regions and eventually shut down. While his fame may not have reached Western countries, his influence resonates throughout Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran, Russia, and the Caucasus region. Mammadguluzadeh’s mastery of Azeri, Russian, and Persian languages further exemplifies his versatility as a writer.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Jalil Huseyngulu oglu Mammadguluzadeh
  • Died At Age: 66
  • Family: Spouse/Ex-: Nazli Kangarli (died in 1903), Hamida Javanshir (1907–1932)
  • Playwrights
  • Short Story Writers
  • Died on: April 1, 1932
  • Place of Death: Baku
  • Education: Transcaucasian Teachers Seminary, Gori

Childhood & Early Life

Jalil Mammadguluzadeh was born in Nakchivan, in present-day Azerbaijan, on February 22, 1866. He is of Azeri ethnicity though his parents were from Iran. Mammadguluzadeh was educated in religious schools through his childhood. At the age of 13, he entered a city school in Nakchivan. It was here he learned Russian. In 1886, he moved to the Georgian city Gori to enroll in the Transcaucasia Teachers’ Seminary. This gave him his background as a teacher and allowed him to meet other intellectually-minded people. After his graduation from Transcaucasia Seminary in 1887, he began teaching in Erivan province. There, he taught in different rural schools throughout the region. In 1901, he moved to the capital of Erivan Province. He wanted to become a lawyer and stayed here to study law for two years. In 1903, he left law school and moved to Tbilisi to provide medical care for his dying wife. Though he had written a few short stories previously in life, it was in Tibilisi that he truly began his career as a writer.


In 1903, he wrote the short story ‘The Postbox.’ Writer Muhammad agha Shakhtakhtinski read this story and encouraged Mammadguluzadeh to publish it in the Azeri publication ‘Sharqi-Rus’. The ‘Postbox’ was published in 1904 in ‘Sharqi-Rus.’ He then became a columnist for ‘Sharqi-Rus’, which provided a place for him to publish fiction and gave him a background in publishing and journalism. During his time at ‘Sharqi-Rus’, Mammadguluzadeh met many other literati. With some friends and colleagues, he helped purchase the Geyrat Publishing House in 1905. One year later, in 1906, he founded the literary and satire magazine ‘Molla Nasraddin’. The magazine compiled prose, poetry, and cartoons to comment on the issues of the time. ’Molla Nasraddin’ was highly controversial in the Tsarist government of the time and had to change office location several times. The magazine’s final home was in Baku, which is now the capital of Azerbaijan. He was editor of this magazine until 1931, when the magazine eventually stopped printing. He published many more short stories, essays, and dramas during this time.

Major Works

He was the editor of the magazine ’Molla Nasraddin’, from 1906 to 1931. The magazine circulated around 2,500 copies for each weekly print run.

Personal Life & Legacy

Jalil Mammadguluzadeh was married three times. His first two wives predeceased him. His first wife, Nazli Kangarli, died in 1903, soon after he took her to Tbilisi for her treatment. His final marriage was to the feminist civil rights activist and philanthropist Hamida Javanshir, in 1907. He had two children with Javanshir: Midhat and Anvar. He died of natural causes on January 4th, 1932, in Baku. He was survived by his wife and two children. Through his work in ‘Molla Nasraddin,’ he is known for his lasting influence on the satire style. He also fought for women’s rights and education. The Azeri language was strengthened because of his fight against foreign vocabulary in the language. Some people dispute his religion, claiming that he was an atheist rather than a Muslim. These claims have not been proven, though he was often a critic of religion and had been threatened by extremists.


  • ’Molla Nasraddin’ was named after a 13th century scholar who wrote satirical and humorous stories. The name is apt because of the satirical nature of the magazine.
  • An Azeri word named after his magazine, roughly translated to Nasraddism, meaning “to tell it like it is.” The word comes from the magazine’s ability to show political realities.

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