The Freya Stark Collection spans the years 1893 to 1993 and embraces in the main her
correspondence, along with publication files of thirteen major works and drafts
considerable number of minor pieces. Also present are some clippings, photographs,
and invitations, together with third party correspondence. The collection is largely
in its original order and is arranged in four series: Series I. Works, 1916-1976
boxes); Series II. Correspondence, 1893-1985 (20.5 boxes); Series III. General
Research, 1913-1976 (.5 box); and Series IV. Additional Materials, 1967-1993 (1
The Works series includes various drafts of those publications written or edited by
Freya Stark between 1934 and 1976. These are Dust in the
Lion's Paw, Ionia, a Quest, The Minaret of Djam, A Peak in
Darien, Perseus in the Wind, Rome on the Euphrates, Seen in
the Hadhramaut, Space, Time & Movement in
Landscape, Traveller's Prelude, Turkey: a Sketch of Turkish History, The Valleys of the Assassins, A
Winter in Arabia, The Zodiac Arch, and
An Italian Diary. The last title cited is Flora
Stark's account of her detention by the Italian authorities in the early years
World War II, edited after the author's death by her daughter.
For all titles published by the firm of John Murray beginning in 1933 relevant
correspondence is found in Series II under the personal heading for John "Jock" Murray, 1909-1993. Various other outgoing Freya
Stark letters in that series bear indications of editorial marking for their future
use in either accounts of Miss Stark's travels or as part of her published letters.
Such markings are particularly evident in those addressed to Flora Stark.
The extensive collection of brief pieces Freya Stark created for various purposes
present in the Works series includes periodical articles, broadcasts, forewords,
juvenilia, lectures, memoranda, and reviews. These range in date from verse written
in 1916 to a dinner address of 1975. Those short pieces found in folders 1.2,
and 1.8 are not individually identified in the folder list but are indexed
alphabetically at the end of the list. Brief pieces set aside for use in The Zodiac Arch, whether actually published there or
not, are not separately indexed.
Series II, Correspondence, contains both the earliest and the latest items in the
Freya Stark Collection, and, more significantly, includes extensive correspondence
with the several persons who figured most significantly in her long life. At twenty
and a half boxes it is by far the bulk of the collection, and of this total the
Murray file at two boxes is the largest grouping.
The earliest bit of correspondence, dated "February 8th
1893," from madame Delécluse to "Mrs.
Stark & Miss Freya Madeline Stark," offers the writer's "best wishes and congratulations" to the newborn and
her mother. It was accompanied by "lilies of the valley
and red & white cyclamen." The latest missive, dated "31/May/85," is from Freya to Sir Michael Stewart and
concerns a projected Mediterranean tour.
The series contains scant correspondence on household matters and little on the
merely social or anything that could be called broadly cultural. There is some
mail, but it is not extensive. The correspondents are mostly directly involved,
one capacity or another, in Freya Stark's life work, and are in the main British.
The political tone is essentially conservative.
For Freya Stark's family there is a large amount of correspondence present, including
a full box of letters from Freya to her mother, together with two folders from
to her daughter. As noted above, Freya's letters to Flora were, in many cases,
sources for published works. There are also three folders from Freya to her father
and a single folder from Robert to his elder daughter. From Vera Stark di Roascio
there are--Vera having died young--only a few letters to be found to her sister
Freya. Costanza di Roascio Boido, Vera's only child to survive the Second World
is represented by one folder.
Among Freya Stark's correspondents is found a number of significant writers and
scholars. Of this group, Sir Sydney Cockerell is represented by the most extensive
correspondence--two folders, covering the years 1934 to 1961. Among the many topics
addressed by Cockerell is Stark's The Arab Island
(Knopf, 1945), for the manuscript of which he provided pages of critiques and
suggestions. None of Stark's letters to Cockerell are in the collection. Other
writers for whom significant incoming correspondence is present are Gertrude
Caton-Thompson, Victor Cunard, Lawrence Durrell, Austen Harrison, Alan and Lucy
Moorehead, Harold Nicolson, Vita Sackville-West, Paul Scott, Lionel Smith, and
The friends and acquaintances of Freya Stark for whom significant correspondence
exists in the collection are a disparate group. Taken chronologically, the first
group includes an old family friend (Herbert Young), two women important in the
years Freya was creating her own unique path (Viva Jeyes and Venetia Buddicom),
patient and indulgent publisher (Jock Murray), and a career diplomat with whom
marriage failed (Stewart Perowne). In the second group, significant in the author's
postwar period of public recognition are found a former aide who became a lifelong
friend (Pamela Cooper), and two ladies of wealth and social position who made
easier for the writer in her later years (Lady Sybil Cholmondeley and Dulcie
Deuchar). Of this group Stewart Perowne and Lady Sybil Cholmondeley are represented
by four folders of correspondence, the others, save Murray, by single folders.
Murray's social correspondence with Freya is intermixed with their business letters.
Various military figures appear among Freya Stark's correspondents. These men range
from Lt. Col. Morice Lake (who in Aden in the late 1930s was charged with keeping
eye on Freya's forays into the Hadhramaut) to Maj. Colin Mackenzie, a serving
officer in the postwar British army and, like Freya, a lover of wild places. Lt.
Gen. Sir John Bagot Glubb--Glubb Pasha, commander of the Arab Legion--is represented
by correspondence official and personal written between 1943 and 1960.
Miss Stark's period of service under the first Earl Wavell during his tenure as
viceroy of India produced correspondence that for his part is here found in carbon
typescripts. There is likewise a group of letters from the elder Wavell's son
Archibald John dating until shortly before his 1953 death in Kenya. Charles W.
Rankin, whom Freya first knew in India as the viceroy's private secretary became
good friend in the postwar years, as revealed in their letters. Each of these
figures is represented by a folder of correspondence, except Morice Lake, from
several letters are present.
A number of diplomats and military intelligence figures appear as correspondents in
the Stark Collection. Sir Vyvyan Holt, whom Freya first met in Baghdad in 1930,
represented by a folder of his personal letters down to 1958. Sir Iltyd Clayton
Sir Kinahan Cornwallis, both of whom worked with Freya Stark in the early years
World War II, together with (from a slightly later period) Moore Crosthwaite and
Michael Stewart are also represented here. The two folders of correspondence from
Stewart and one of Freya's outgoing is the most numerous involving this group.
Series III, General Research, comprises five folders--a half box--of clippings,
ephemeral printed matter, fragments of research material, some third person
correspondence and a few photos. The most significant individual item found here
Venetia Buddicom's Journal of the Jebel Druze, a typescript with handwritten
corrections, covering the travels of Buddicom and Freya Stark through that region
the period 7-21 May 1928.
The third person correspondence present here dates from 1913 to 1952 and the most
frequent recipient was Flora Stark. Among these letters, those of Sir Akhbar Hydari
to Lord Halifax transmitting copies of the letters being sent to the chieftains
the Hadhramaut in conjunction with Stark's 1934 expedition are perhaps the most
Series IV, Additional Materials, consists of fifteen letters and postcards
(1967-1980) from Freya Stark to the Australian-born painter and sculptor Colin
Colahan and his wife Monique. In these letters Freya describes her travels from
1967, when she first explored central Asia, to 1980, when at the age of 87 she
planning what she predicts will be her "last proper
journey" to Nepal and the Himalayas. Accompanying the letters are two
photographs of Freya and a portrait of her painted by Colin, two charcoal drawings
of the Colahans by Freya, and newspaper clippings of obituaries for Freya. These
materials were added to the Ransom Center’s Freya Stark Collection in 2014.