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The Southern Gates of Arabia: A Journey in the Hadhramaut

The Southern Gates of Arabia: A Journey in the Hadhramaut
Freya Stark

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Edged by the fearsome Empty Quarter to the North, the Arabian Sea to the South and resting on layers of history that stretch back to the dawn of human civilisation, the Hadhramaut - heart of 'Arabia Felix', in what is now Yemen - is one of the wildest and most remote parts of Arabia, little-changed from when Freya Stark travelled there over 70 years ago. Tracing the ancient incense route, Stark set out to be the first westerner to discover the fabled lost city of Shabwa, which had captivated explorers and travellers for centuries. Though she journeyed through the canyons and mountains of the Hadhramaut extensively and by any means possible, Stark's goal was never reached, but the ending to her story was nevertheless - and in characteristic fashion - dramatic. Having caught measles whilst staying in a sultan's harem and with the region overrun by warring religious factions and bandits, she had to be evacuated by the Royal Air Force. Though Shabwa remained elusive, Freya Stark's remarkable journey ensured that her name would forever be associated with Arabia and her travels hailed as intrepid and adventurous as any undertaken by other great explorers of Arabia such as T.E.

Lawrence, Richard Burton and Charles Doughty.

Author Info

Freya Stark (1893-1993), 'the poet of travel', was the doyenne of middle East travel writers. Her travels earned her the title of dame and huge public acclaim. Her many, now classic, books include Traveller's Prelude, Ionia, The Southern Gates of Arabia, Alexander's Path, Dust in the Lion's Paw, East is West and Valleys of the Assassins.


Extraordinarily rich and authoritative...a book to treasure.
– New York Times

A treasure of rare distinction among travel books.
– The New York Times Book Review

Here, for once in a very long while, is a book upon which the miser of superlatives may pour out his hoard of praise...To read such a to be proud and thankful. For here is a lovely charity and calm courage, vivid gaiety, the strong peace of truth and understanding; and quietness.
– The Times Literary Supplement

Her writing has wit and vivacity and no little beauty; I found the whole book enthralling.
– Christian Science Monitor

It was rare to leave her company without feeling that the world was somehow larger and more promising. Her life was something of a work of art; The books in which she recorded her journeys were seductively individual
Nomad and social lioness, public servant and private essayist, emotional victim and mythmaker.
– Colin Thubron, The New York Times

Her books make Stark a remarkable figure under any circumstances. Having been a woman whose roamings through Middle Eastern deserts and mountains put her in the top ranks of the fabled Royal Geographical Society makes her more so.
– Richard Bernstein, The New York Times

Few writers have the capacity to do with words what Faberge could do with gems-to fashion them, without violating their quality. It is this extraordinary talent which sets Freya Stark apart from her fellow craftsman in the construction of books on travel.
– The Daily Telegraph

Freya Stark remains unexcelled as an interpreter of brief encounters in wild regions against the backdrop of history.
– The Observer

One of the finest travel writers of our century.
– The New Yorker

A Middle East traveler, an explorer and, above all, a writer, Freya Stark has, with an incomparably clear eye, looked toward the horizon of the past without ever losing sight of the present. Her books are route plans of a perceptive intelligence, traversing time and space with ease.
– Saudi Aramco World

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: Tauris Parke Paperbacks
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.

ISBN: 9781848853157
Publication Date: 01 Feb 2011
Number of Pages: 288
Illustrations: maps

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