Autobiography, Journalism, and Controversy

Freya Stark's Baghdad Sketches

in Volume 16 (2015): Issue 1 (Jun 2015): Introduction: Women Writing Travel, 1890–1939

This article examines Freya Stark's life-writing over a forty-year period in order to shed light on her experience of Baghdad from 1929 to 1933. The article focuses on Stark's resistance to expected feminine norms of the British community, and contextualizes her experience alongside that of Gertrude Bell and Stefana Drower. Stark's experiences, and those of Drower, reveal the ways in which British women resisted the mundane expatriate lifestyle, and gained a great deal of cultural understanding though their interaction with Iraqis. Furthermore, the article discusses Stark's work at the Baghdad Times, a literary apprenticeship that also led to the publication of Baghdad Sketches. The article not only highlights the plurality of autobiographical presentation characteristic of Stark's oeuvre, but also reveals how Stark refashioned her experiences throughout her life, taking into account her changing status and the different political and cultural climates in which the works were published.