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(STARK, Freya) KER, William Paton.

The Art of Poetry.

Seven Lectures. 1920-22

Oxford, Clarendon Press 1923 Stock Code: 127606

"He is the best of friends and one feels so sure of him"

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First Edition. Freya Stark's personal copy of Professor William Ker's lectures delivered as Professor of Poetry in Oxford between 1920 and 1922, which was given to Stark by Ker's sister just a few weeks after Ker's death on 17th July and bears is inscribed to her, "Freya Stark. 6th August 1923. Love P.M.K Penelope M. Ker". An elegant Reynolds Stone bookplate that Freya shared with her husband Stewart Perowne during their short marriage of 1947 to 1952 is stuck to the front pastedown.
When Stark was a young woman in the 1910s she "considered Ker her adopted godfather,and said that he taught her all she knew of English literature, correcting her essays by writing underneat 'too many words'" (Moorehead, p. 24). Ker as a charismatic man and an inspirational teacher, who "always kept the spirit of an adventurer, wandering far afield when the spirit really prompted, carrying his students with him by his power of mind and temper" (ODNB). In 1917 Stark wrote that "really there is no one to come up to him; he is the best of friends and one feels so sure of him, that he would never change : that is the rarest and best thing in friendship" (Letters, vol. 1 p.24). In the summer of 1923, they were mountain climbing together on the Pizzo Bianco (a passion they both shared) when "'W.P. gave a little sudden cry and died'. While the guide went for help, Freya sat with him for 7 hours" (Moorehead, p.33). Stark was still in Italy on the date the book was inscribed to her and Penelope had perhaps travelled out with it for her brother's burial in Macugnaga. Stark dedicated her 1936 book, The Valleys of the Assassins, "to W. P. Ker, in loving memory" and until Penelope died in 1940, the two women remained good friends and corresponded regularly.
Loosely inserted is a photocopied note from Jock Murray, Stark's publisher, to Jean Gunn, wife of senior WHO official Dr William Gunn and friend of Stark's in her later life. It reads: "20 Sept '88. Dear Jean, This goes to you with Freya's love and my gratitude for all you do for her. We publish October 20. Autumn Greetings, Jock. Heaven knows when this will reach you."

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Octavo. Original blue cloth, paper label on spine, plain endpapers, replacement paper label tipped-in at rear.


Photocopied frontispiece crudely added, with pencil annotation on the verso "From: Freya Stark, Traveller's Prelude, 1950. page 259."


Spine a little faded, spine and boards a little rubbed and bumped, label slightly browned, text block a little cocked and top edge lightly foxed, minor toning throughout, remains a very good copy.


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