Diana Darke graduated in Arabic from Oxford University and started her career working for the British Government’s General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham. She went on to specialise in the Middle East for over thirty years, living and working in a range of Arab countries as an Arabic translator and consultant for both public and private sectors.
Along the way she authored 16 acclaimed guides to the region, including Bradt’s Syria, Eastern Turkey and Oman,and is now well known as an authority on Syria, contributing to the Guardian, the Sunday Times, the Financial Times and the BBC’s From Our Own Correspondent.
In 2005 she bought a semi-derelict courtyard house in Old Damascus and spent three years restoring it with the help of Syrian craftsmen, a process which led her back into the academic world to complete an MA in Islamic Art and Architecture at SOAS, London in 2009.
With her Damascus house in use as a refuge for displaced friends, her links with Syria are deep and ongoing. She has been back six times since the revolution began in March 2011 and remains actively committed to helping Syrians achieve a better future. Her new book My House in Damascus, An Inside View of the Syrian Crisis, just published in its third edition with two extra chapters, was described by the Times Literary Supplement as ‘echoing...Lawrence Durrell’s Bitter Lemons... with the pace of a novel and the colour of the best travel writing...a learned encyclopaedia of Syrian history, of the Arabs and their language and traditions, of Islamic art and architecture, and more.’