Freya Stark, traveller and writer, dies at 100

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Dame Freya Stark, one of the 20th century's greatest travel writers, died yesterday, aged 100, at her home in Asolo, north of Venice.

'She regarded death as her last great journey which she'd been looking forward to for some years,' John Murray, her publisher and godson, said last night. He added that she had not been fully aware of what was going on around her for the last five years.

Regarded as a prolific writer with a great deal of personal courage, Dame Freya's work was based mainly on her travels in the Near East before the Second World War and Asia Minor in subsequent years. Her oeuvre includes 10 books of travel, four volumes of autobiography, eight volumes of letters and a number of essay collections. She was equally at home riding up the Himalayas on a pony as floating down the Euphrates on a raft.

Her autobiographical writing reveals vivid memories of, at the age of four, setting off to Plymouth 'with a mackintosh over my arm, my toothbrush and one penny-halfpenny' to board a ship to take her to sea.

Her books also reveal a strong affinity for the Arabs. She would habitually travel in a party as the only European female through Arab countries completely convinced that her personal safety was not at risk. She also took repeated attacks of dysentry, malaria, influenza and heart trouble in her stride.

She made her last journey in in her late seventies, in 1969, up the lower reaches of Everest and the Annapurna.