Dame Freya Madeline Stark, Mrs Perowne, DBE (31 January 1893 – 9 May 1993) was a British explorer and travel writer. She wrote more than two dozen books on her travels in the Middle East and Afghanistan, as well as several autobiographical works and essays. She was one of the first non-Arabians to travel through the southern Arabian Deserts.
Stark was born on 31 January 1893 in Paris, where her parents were studying art. Her mother, Flora, was an Italian of Polish/German descent; her father, Robert, an English painter from Devon. Stark spent much of her childhood in northern Italy, helped by the fact that Pen Browning, a friend of her father, had bought three houses in Asolo. Her maternal grandmother lived in Genoa.
Her parents' marriage was unhappy from the outset, and they separated early in Freya's childhood. Stark's biographer, Jane Fletcher Geniesse—quoting Freya's cousin, Nora Stanton Barney—claimed that Freya's biological father was "a well-to-do young man from a prominent family in New Orleans" named Obediah Dyer. There is no known corroboration of this account, and it is not known if Stark herself was aware of it; she did not make any reference to it in any of her writings, including her autobiography...
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