[Dame Freya Stark and Peggy Drower.] 15 items from the papers of Stark's assistant Peggy Drower, including two letters to her from Stark's biographer Jane F. Geniesse, with a copy the book, an Autograph Card Signed from Caroline Moorhead.
The material is loosely inserted in a copy of 'Passionate Nomad. The Life of Freya Stark' by Jane Fletcher Geniesse (New York: Random House, 1999). xxvi + 402 + pp., 8vo. Very good, in like price-clipped dustwrapper, and inscribed to Drower by her daughter. Drower is described on p.296 as 'daughter of Freya's old Baghdad friend Lady Drower, [who] followed Pam Hore-Ruthven as her assistant and spent two years trying to get repaid for the cost, not to mention the enormous effort, of packing up Freya's belongings and sending them to Asolo after the war'. She is thanked in the preface, and a photograph of her and Stark is reproduced with her permission on p.290, captioned 'Freya, always passionate about clothes, enjoyed wearing romantic costumes. Here she poses with Peggy Drower, Stefana Drower's daughter and the last of her assistants in the Ikwan, in the garden of Freya's bungalow at number 14 Alwiyah, Baghdad, 1943.' Four more of Drower's photographs are reprinted in the book, and the first of Geniesse's two Autograph Letters Signed is written to gain clearance for the publication of the five. It is on her Washington letterhead; 12 February 1999. 3pp., 12mo. She begins: 'Dear Peggy | Incredibly enough, the biography I've been struggling with of Freya Stark is finally finished. It has been a fascinating experience, both to learn about The Middle East during its time of transition in the 20th Century, and to peep into Freya's world of gifted friends and colleagues.' She thanks Drower for her 'sympathetic help', before explaining that she has had 'the most exhausting (and expensive!) time trying to locate photographs of the cast of characters - Vyvyan Holt, Wavell, Kenahan Cornwallis, etc. etc. but some of the best are the photos you gave me - thank goodness! They help to amplify the story wonderfully, so now I am writing to ask your "official" permission". Random House requires it - & I hope it is not too great a trouble to sign off on the use of 1) you & your mother in Tekrit (if you'd care to write me a word or two for the caption I would love it) 2) Freya with Sheikh Ajil & bustard 3) Freya picknicking in "Devonshire" 4) The Mosque in Samarra 5) You & Freya at Alwiyah, 1943. What was the address exactly? No. 14, yes?' Before closing she asks for 'addendums or amplifications'. She signs 'Jane Geniesse'. Geniesse's second letter, simply signed 'Jane', is dated 11 September 1999; place not stated. 2pp., 12mo. She thanks her for 'sending that Release form to Random', and continues: 'I am in a state of excitement to have finally received two copies of the book. Random has presented it beautifully - with lovely maps that I had slaved over in January. The book jacket that Chatto & Windus is using isn't half as nice as the one Random's art department created. They claim their British audience has a different taste!' She ends with personal news. The third item is a carbon typescript of a letter from Drower to Geniesse, from 11 Sutton Road, Muswell Hill, London; dated May 30 1993. 2pp., foolscap 8vo. She writes following a meeting, and reports that 'Yesterday I had a good hunt through my photo cupboard and files, and have found some grist to your mill. The photos signed with Freya's name were taken on our trip to Tekrit and Samarra; the one of my mother and me talking to the policeman is the only one I have so far found of my mother. The one of Freya and me in the garden of Freya's bungalow (no. 14 Alwiyah) is good I think. There are lots of mother's two vistits to Shaikh Ajil in the desert near Hatra'. She also has a large album which she declines to send, and she is 'reluctant to entrust my sole and fragile copy [of 'Peacock Angel'] (with my mother's annotations in pencil) to the post; the same applies to her earlier By Tigris and Euphrates'. She is enclosing 'a couple of pages of one of F.'s letters to me which somehow got left out of those I gave you the other day.' She hopes Geniesse can visit her soon, and describes her itinerary. The letter continues with references to the Muslim Brotherhood, 'Corrections from Molly Izard's book' ('I did not "spend my childhood" in Iran [...]'), and Robert Tolland. The fourth item is an Autograph Card Signed ('Caroline') from the biographer Caroline Moorhead. On her letterhead and dated 12 November [no year]. Presumably writing to Drower, she apologises for having retained 'the letters' for so long. The fifth item is a set of manuscript notes - presumably by Drower - on Stark's 'Dust in the Paw' and related matters. 2pp., 12mo. The next two items are British Library book application slips, both on 3 May 1994, the first for Stark's 'Rivers of Time' and the second for Malise Ruthven's 'Travellers through Time'. The last eight items are cuttings from newspapers (Guardian, Times, Sunday Times) dating from between 1993 and 2006. These consist of: a review of Geniesse's book (praising her 'excellent research', but wishing for a 'grittier narrative'), an article on the sale of Stark's Italian villa to developers in 2006, a review of Molly Izzard's biography of Stark, an article on the response to Izzard's biography, obituaries of Nigel Clive and Pamela Cooper, an article on the British Embassy in Baghdad.