Early Life and Studies
Freya Madeline 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. For her ninth birthday she received a copy of One Thousand and One Nights, and became fascinated with the Orient. She was often ill while young and confined to the house, so she found an outlet in reading. She delighted in reading French, in particular Dumas, and taught herself Latin. When she was 13 she had an accident in a factory in Italy, when her hair got caught in a machine, and she had to spend four months getting skin grafts in hospital, which left her face slightly disfigured.
During her childhood her parents separated.
She later learned Arabic and Persian, and studied history in London.
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