Rare publication on pre-Islamic inscriptions in Yemen by Freya Stark, together with autograph letter

Stark, Freya, British explorer (1893-1993). Some Pre-Islamic Inscriptions on the Frankincense Route in Southern Arabia. (Together with:) Autograph letter signed.

[Cambridge], Cambridge University Press / reprinted from the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1939.

8vo. 479-498 pp., plus 8 black and white photographic plates. Original tan wrappers titled in black. Together with autograph letter signed, 1 p. on one leaf, 210 x 146 mm.


An exceedingly scarce offprint by Freya Stark which provides a detailed account of her important travels with archaeologist Gertrude Caton Thompson (1888-1985) and the discoveries made in the Hadhramaut in 1937-38. Together with a signed manuscript letter from Stark to the cellist Sheridan Russell.

Stark was one of the first modern Europeans to explore much of the Middle East, including the Arabian Peninsula. After the famous Thompson expedition described herein, Stark would go on to spend the duration of WWII travelling in Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Southern Arabia, having offered her services to the British Ministry of Information who sent her to persuade government officials and local dignitaries to join, or continue supporting, the Allied cause.

The present volume is of no little importance: Gertrude Thompson was a foremost archaeologist and, like Stark, one of the few women in a field dominated by men. The expedition was successful in undertaking the first systemic excavations in the Hadhramaut region of Yemen, though Stark and Thompson famously clashed, and Stark returned home earlier than Thompson to give lectures on the pre-Islamic inscriptions she and Thompson had discovered, and which Stark had photographed. This volume comprises the content of these lectures, along with photographic plates reproducing Stark's inscription photos.

The letter, written in March 1977, indicates that Stark intended to return from a later Euphrates expedition by July and meet with her friend. It reads: "Fine, dearest Sheridan, I have written 25/7 in my little book, & hope to be back from Euphrates by then - Lovely. Terribly busy! Yours, Freya".

In excellent condition.