Fatma Aliye was born in Constantinople on 9 October 1862. She was the second child of the leading Ottoman civil servant and renowned historian Ahmet Cevdet Pasha (18221895) and his wife Adviye Rabia Hanm. She had two siblings: a brother Ali Sedat and a sister Emine Semiye (1864).
Due to her father's position as Wali (province governor) to Egypt and later to Greece, she spent three years from 1866 to 1868 in Aleppo and six months in 1875 in Janina. In 1878, she stayed together with her family nine months in Damascus, where her father was appointed.
Fatma Aliye was educated informally at home, since, at that time, it was not common for girls to enroll in formal classes even though there was no legal restriction on female education. Due to her intellectual curiosity, she acquired a high level of proficiency in Arabic and French.
In 1879, when she was seventeen years old, her father arranged her marriage to captain-major (Ottoman Turkish: Kolaas) Mehmet Faik Bey, an aide-de-camp of Sultan Abdul-Hamid II and a nephew of Gazi Osman Pasha, the hero of the Siege of Plevna (1877). She gave birth to four daughters: Hatice (born 1880), Aye (born 1884), Nimet (born 1900) and Zbeyde smet (born 1901).
Her husband was a person intellectually less endowed than her, and during the first years of their marriage, did not allow her to read novels in foreign languages.
She debuted in literature in 1889 with the translation of Georges Ohnet's novel Volont from French into Turkish under the title Meram with her husband's permission, ten years after her marriage. The book was published under her pen name "Bir Hanm" ("A Lady"). Renowned writer Ahmet Mithat was so impressed by her that he declared her as his honorary daughter in the newspaper Tercman- Hakikat ("The Interpreter of Truth"). Fatma Aliye attracted also her father's attention so that he lectured her and exchanged ideas with her. After her first translation, she used the pen name "Mtercime-i Meram" (literally: "The female translator of Volont) in her consecutive translations.
In 1894, she co-authored the novel Hayal ve Hakikat ("Dream and Truth") together with Ahmet Mithat Efendi. She wrote the passages for the heroine while the passages for the male character was penned by Ahmet Mithat. The work was signed with "Bir Kadn ve Ahmet Mithat" ("A Woman and Ahmet Mithat"). Following this novel, the two authors exchanged a long time letters with each other, which were published later in the newspaper Tercman- Hakikat.
Fatma Aliye published her first novel Muhazarat ("Useful Information") in 1892 under her real name, in which she tried to disprove the belief that a woman can not forget her first love. It was the first novel in the entire Ottoman Empire written by a woman. The book was reprinted in 1908.
Her second novel Udi ("The Lute Player"), published in 1899, depicts a female oud player, whom Fatma Aliye met in Aleppo. In this novel, she tells, in a plain language, the life story of Bedia, who made an unhappy marriage. Renowned novelist Reat Nuri Gntekin refers to Udi as one of the most important works, which attracted his interest in literature.
Her other novels are Raf'et (1898), Enin (1910) ("Groaning") and Levaih-i Hayat ("Scenes from Life"). She thematized in her works marriage, harmony between the spouses, love and affection, and the importance of curtailing contrary to arranged marriage. Further, she picked individualism out as a central theme by creating independent and self-reliant heroines, who work and earn own money without the need of a man.
In 1893, her prominence grew up after the publication of Ahmet Mithat's book Bir Muharrire-i Osmaniye'nin Neeti ("Birth of An Ottoman Female Writer") composed of Fatma Aliye's letters. In these letters, she expresses her never ending enthusiasm to learn.
Her essay Nisvan- slm was translated into French under the title Les femmes muselmannes and also into Arabic language, and her novel Udi into French. A criticism of her, published in a French newspaper, about a book titled "Women of East and West" by Frenchman mile Julliard attracted much attention in Paris. Also internationally acknowledged, her work was exhibited at the library of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, USA and was listed in the catalogue of the Women's Library at the fair. Despite her prominence until the Second Constitutional Era, she fell into oblivion with the time.
In 1914, she published her book Ahmed Cevdet Paa ve Zaman ("Ahmet Cevdet Pasha and His Time") in order to defend her father against political attacks. In this work, she intended to present the political scene after the Second Constitutional Era. However, its controversy to the official historical thesis led to the book's exclusion from the literature.