1925 yılında İzmir’in Menemen ilçesinde doğdu. İstanbul Üniversitesi Hukuk Fakültesi’ndeki yüksek öğrenimini yarıda bıraktı, gazete ve dergilerde çalıştı. Askerliğinden önce ve sonra olmak üzere, üç kez gittiği Paris’te altı yıl kaldı. Demokrat İzmir Gazetesi Genel Yayın Müdürlüğü ve Başyazarlığından Ankara’da Bilgi Yayınevi Danışmanlığına geldi (1973-1980). Çeşitli gazetelerde köşe yazarlığını sürdürdü (1968- ) (Yeni Ortam, Dünya, Milliyet, Söz, Güneş, Meydan) 1950’li yıllarda Vatan Gazetesi’nde sinema eleştirileri yazdı, senaryo yazarlığına başladı. Senaryolarında Ali Kaptanoğlu adını kullandı. Belli başlı filmleri: Yalnızlar Rıhtımı (Lütfi Akad), Ateşten Damlalar (Memduh Ün), Rıfat Diye Biri (Ertem Gönenç), Şoför Nebahat (Metin Erksan), Devlerin Öfkesi (Nevzat Pesen), Ver Elini İstanbul (Aydın Arakon). Atilla İlhan Ekim 2005’te son yolculuğuna uğurlandı.
İlk şiiri Balıkçı Türküsü, Yeni Edebiyat gazetesinde çıkmıştı (1941).
İlk düzyazısı ise (Kültürümüz Üzerine Düşünceler) Balıkesir’de yayınlanan Türk Dili Gazetesi’nde yayınlandı (1944).
Duvar kitabına aldığı Cabbaroğlu Mehemmed şiirinin 1946 CHP Şiir Yarışması’nda ikincilik almasıyla tanındı. Şairliğinin ilk on yılını, destan boyutlarıyla ve duygusal, gergin bir hava içinde, İkinci Dünya Savaşı’nın Avrupa’yı saran bezginlik çöküntülerini yansıtmaya adamıştı. Zamanla (1955- ) toplumcu kollayışı bırakmamakla birlikte tek insanın duygu dünyasından kesitler verdi; artistik abartmalarla ve yerli dünya görüşüne de yaslanarak, bireysel temaları işledi. Aynı gerginlik ve gerilim kendine özgü bir söz dizim ve hazinesiyle at başı, çarpıcı benzetmelerle zenginleşmiş romanlarında da görülür. Eleştiride uzun zaman toplumcu gerçekçilik ilkelerine bağlı kalmıştı.
Attilâ İlhan (15 June 1925 – 11 October 2005) was a Turkish poet, novelist, essayist, journalist and reviewer.
Attilâ İlhan was born in Menemen in İzmir Province, Turkey on 15 June 1925. He received most of his primary education in İzmir. However, because of his father s job, he completed his junior high school education in different cities. Aged 16 and enrolled in İzmir Atatürk High School, he got into trouble for sending a poem by Nazım Hikmet, a famous dissident communist Turkish poet, to a girl he was in love with. He was arrested and taken into custody for three weeks. He was also dismissed school and jailed for two months. After his imprisonment, İlhan was forbidden attending any schools in Turkey, thus interrupting his education.
Following a favourable court decision in 1941, he received permission to continue his education again and enrolled in Istanbul Işık High School. During the last year of his high school education, his uncle sent one of his poems to CHP Poetry Competition without telling Attilâ. The poem, Cebbaroğlu Mehemmed won the second prize among many poems written by famous poets. He gratuated high school in 1942 and enrolled in İstanbul University s law school. However, he left midway through his legal education to pursue his own endeavours and published his first poetry book, Duvar (The Wall).
In his second year at Istanbul University, he went to Paris in order to take part in supporting Nazım Hikmet. His observations of the French and their culture were to influence many of his works.
After returning to Turkey, he repeatedly ran into trouble with the police. Interrogations in Sansaryan Han influenced his works based on death, thriller, etc.
He went back to Paris again in 1951 because of an official investigation about an article in Gerçek newspaper. In this period he learned to speak French and studied Marxist philosophy. In the 1950s Attilâ İlhan spent his days along an İstanbul–Paris–İzmir triangle and during this period he started to become popular in Turkey. After returning to Turkey, he resumed studying law. However, in his last year at law school, he left university and took up a journalistic career. His relationship with the cinema also started in this year. He began writing movie reviews and critiques in Vatan newspaper.
After completing his military service in Erzurum in 1957, İlhan returned to İstanbul and concentrated on cinema. He wrote screenplays for nearly 15 movies under the nom de plume Ali Kaptanoğlu. However, cinema didn t meet his expectations and he went back to Paris in 1960. During this period, he analyzed the development of socialism and television. The unexpected death of his father caused him to return to his hometown of İzmir, where he would remain for the next eight years. During this period, he served as the editorial writer and editor-in-chief of the Democratic İzmir newspaper. During the same years, he also wrote poetry books, Yasak Sevişmek and Bıçağın Ucu of the Aynanın İçindekiler series.