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Barbara Perry’s life and work
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Barbara Perry
Barbara  Perry
Detailed Information on Barbara Perry

Biography of Barbara Perry

Barbara Perry (1923-2015) was born on April 9, 1923, in Boston, Massachusetts, from old New England ancestry. Her father, Lauriston Ward, a “Boston Brahmin”, was an anthropologist who taught at Harvard.

Barbara attended first Vassar, then Sarah Lawrence colleges, at the second concentrating in writing both poetry and prose under the tutorship of Maxwell Geismar, the New York literary critic. Later she met and married Whitall Perry, the author of the opus, A Treasury of Traditional Wisdom.

Meeting Whitall Perry spurred a joint interest in Eastern spirituality. They met the celebrated Orientalist, Ananda Coomaraswamy in New York, which inspired a venture East in search of a spiritual master. On their way to India, visa delays obliged them to stay in Cairo where they met the French luminary and metaphysician René Guénon, as well as the English Islamist and poet, Martin Lings, a meeting that in the latter’s case would turn into a lifelong friendship.

Settling in Egypt, in a home next to the Pyramids, the Perrys would summer in Switzerland; there they met the great metaphysician and foremost spokesman of the Sophia Perennis, Frithjof Schuon. Later political unrest in Egypt forced the Perrys to move to Switzerland where they, along with their children Mark and Catherine, became next-door neighbors of the Schuons, a relationship and proximity that endured forty-six years until Schuon’s death in 1998. They also undertook a number of important journeys with the Schuons across Europe, Turkey, Morocco, and even out to the American West where the Schuons and Perrys established special bonds with members of the Sioux and Crow tribes. In 1963 Whitall and Barbara received Indian names from Benjamin Black Elk, the son of the famous Sioux medicine man.

Barbara Perry wrote the introduction to Art from the Sacred to the Profane: East and West .

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