Durham, M. E. (Mary Edith), 1863-1944

Mary Edith Durham was born in 1863 in London, daughter of a surgeon. Educated at Bedford College and at the Royal Academy of Arts, she worked as an artist and illustrator. However, in the late 1890s, she became ill and depressed and was prescribed travel. Sailing to Montenegro, she was captivated by Balkan life and culture. Thereafter she travelled extensively in the region and began systematically to study its history and languages, with a view to understanding the customs and manners of each area. She published several books, including Through the lands of the Serb (1904), The Burden of the Balkans (1905), and High Albania (1909). In particular, she championed the cause of the Albanians, becoming secretary of the Anglo-Albanian Society (later Association), launched in 1918. Ill-health ended her travels in 1921, but she continued to publish and was active on the Council of the Royal Anthropological Institute.

From the guide to the The Edith Durham Balkan Collection, c.1919-1927, (University of Bradford)

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