Private View: A Tribute To The Late Author John Freely

Andrew Finkel pays tribute to his friend and inspiration, the late John Freely, author of the definitive guide, ‘Strolling Through Istanbul’. Ever curious, always surprising, his gargantuan appetite for life made him so much more than the sum of his 65 books.

  • Forever the traveller: at the age of 17 John Freely joined the Navy and ended up in China.

If it was Harry Truman who famously decided that “the buck stops here” then we had John Freely, physicist, historian, traveller, author and joyful companion, to remind us that the buck had to start somewhere and that he had it on the best authority (and thereby hung an engaging but not-so-simple tale) where that somewhere was. John’s novelist daughter Maureen once confessed to the frustration of how to begin a story set in Istanbul, a city where not even the past stands still. The place you thought you should start was never the place you actually started – and then umpteen drafts later you found yourself starting from somewhere different again. Of course, the easier solution would have been to ask John.

For my generation, it was John Freely – not the Milestone by the Hippodrome – who stood at the epicentre of Istanbul. Strolling Through Istanbul, the 1972 guidebook that he co-authored with his fellow Robert College professor Hilary Sumner-Boyd, described exactly where to begin the adventure. Page one, chapter one plonks us on the Galata Bridge facing the Golden Horn and the historical skyline. At a glance, we appreciated the intimacy that the city has with the sea and how topography and geography shaped Istanbul’s character.

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Issue 56, October 2017 Brave Old World
£12.00 / $14.58 / 81.33 TL
Other Highlights from Cornucopia 56
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Buy the issue
Issue 56, October 2017 Brave Old World
£12.00 / $14.58 / 81.33 TL