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Dame Freya Stark (Dame Freya Madeline Stark) Biography

(1893–1993), (Dame Freya Madeline Stark), Baghdad Sketches, The Valley of the Assassins

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British travel writer, born in Paris; she was domiciled for most of her life in Italy. After attending the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, she went to Baghdad in 1930, publishing Baghdad Sketches, her first book, in 1933. She subsequently travelled widely in the Middle East, describing her hazardous expeditions to remote areas in The Valley of the Assassins (1934) and The Southern Gates of Arabia (1936). During the Second World War she served in diplomatic capacities in various countries, a period described in the autobiographical Dust in the Lion's Paw (1961); her accounts of her earlier life are contained in Traveller's Prelude (1950), Beyond the Euphrates (1951), and The Court of Incense (1953). From the late 1940s onward her interest in the eastern extensions of ancient Greek civilization resulted in a succession of books which include Iona: A Quest (1954), Alexander's Path (1958), and Riding to the Tigris (1959). Rome on the Euphrates (1966) deals with the Asian frontiers of the Roman Empire. Eight volumes of her letters appeared between 1974 and 1982; Over the Rim of the World (1988), a selection of her correspondence, was edited by Caroline Moorehead, author of the biography Freya Stark (1985).

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