1934 - Dame Freya Madeline Stark

Scope and Content

The series consists of administrative documents, correspondence, printed lecture card and newspaper cuttings concerned with the awarding of the Burton Memorial Medal to Freya Stark. There are also some printed materials concerned with her death.

Administrative / Biographical History

Freya Stark was born on 31 January 1893 in Paris. She taught herself Latin and read avidly before being educated at Bedford College and the School of Oriental and Asian Studies, London. She learnt Arabic and Persian. In World War One she served as a VAD. She first travelled to the Middle East in 1927 and by 1931 she had completed three dangerous treks into the wilderness of western Iran, parts of which no Westerner had ever visited, and had located the long-fabled Valleys of the Assassins. In 1935 she travelled to the Hadhramaut, the hinterland of southern Arabia.
During World War Two she joined the British Ministry of Information helping to spread propaganda to persuade Arabs to support the allies. In 1947, at the age of 54, she married Stewart Perowne, a British administrator and historian. The couple had no children, and separated in 1952 (but did not divorce). After the war she travelled in Turkey and Afghanistan. She wrote extensively about her travels.
Stark was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 1972 New Year's Honours. She died at Asolo on 9 May 1993, a few months after her hundredth birthday.


The series was divided into three sub-series of Administrative Documents, Correspondence, and Printed Material.

Related Material

The Minutes of the Council Meeting may provide additional details of the award to Freya Stark. The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 1935 (1), pp. 241-251, provides details of the giving of the Burton Memorial Medal to Freya Stark and the lecture which she provided.