Stark, Freya Madeline (frāˈə) [key], 1893–1993, British author, traveler, and Arabist. The first European to visit several areas in the Middle East, she was born in Paris to artist parents and grew up in England and Italy. A self-taught polyglot, she was a nurse in World War I, traveled (1927) to Lebanon to study Arabic, and went on to Iraq, where she worked for the Baghdad Times. Her subsequent travels took her to the Druze of S Syria, the Nizaris (Assassins) of SW Persia, and many other peoples and regions. During World War II she worked for the British ministry of information in S Arabia and Egypt. Stark wrote more than 20 books recounting her adventurous life and often arduous travels, all in a spirited, polished, and sophisticated style. Among them are The Valley of the Assassins (1934), The Southern Gates of Arabia (1936), A Winter in Arabia (1940), Perseus in the Wind (1948), and The Zodiac Arch (1968). She was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1972.
See her autobiographies, Traveller's Prelude (1950), Beyond Euphrates (1951), The Coast of Incense (1953), and Dust in the Lion's Paw (1961); her selected letters, ed. by C. Moorehead (1988); biographies by C. Moorehead (1986), M. Izzard (1993), and J. F. Geniesse (2009).