Dame Freya Stark; Author of 24 Books, Explorer of Near East

From Associated Press

Dame Freya Stark, one of the great travelers of the 20th Century and author of two dozen books, has died at age 100 after spending half her lifetime exploring Arabia and the Near East by camel, pony and mule.

Miss Stark, whose books continued to sell more than 50 years after she wrote them, died Sunday at her home in Asolo, Italy, her publisher, John Murray, said. He attributed her death to old age.

"She always looked at death as her last great voyage," Murray said. Indeed, she had told friends of her disappointment that she had not died on Annapurna in the Himalayas, which she visited at age 76.

She traveled in Persia (now Iran), Arabia, Turkey and Afghanistan, sometimes going to areas no European women and few European men had seen at the time.

Her books developed from the letters she wrote to her friends. Eight volumes of her letters were published in addition to two dozen books.

For her explorations she received medals from the Royal Geographical Society, the Royal Asiatic Society and others. In 1972 she became a dame of the British empire, the equivalent of knighthood.

The daughter of two English artists of independent though modest means, Freya Stark was born in Paris on Jan. 31, 1893, and later lived in Asolo.

She broke off her university studies to work as a nurse on the Italian front in World War I, and later studied Arabic with a monk in Italy and at the London School of Oriental Studies.

Miss Stark went to Baghdad in the late 1920s to improve her Arabic and study Farsi. She also wrote articles for the Baghdad Times, which attracted Murray's attention.

"Baghdad Sketches" was published in 1933, followed by "The Valley of the Assassins" in 1934.

Among her other books were, "The Southern Gates of Arabia," "Ionia," "The Lycian Shore," "Beyond the Euphrates," "Alexander's Path" and "Travels in Afghanistan."

Miss Stark was married to Stewart Perowne, a leading Orientalist and historian, from 1947 to 1952.

She will be buried in Asolo after a funeral service there Thursday, Murray said.

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