Mary Edith Durham, was born in 1863 in London and educated at Bedford College and at the Royal Academy of Arts. She worked as an artist and illustrator, and illustrated the reptile volume of the Cambridge Natural History, and one her London scenes is in the Guildhall Gallery.
In the 1890s, she became ill and was prescribed travel. She sailed to Montenegro and became captivated by Balkan life and culture. Thereafter she travelled extensively in the region and studied the regions’ history and languages systematically, leading to several books on the subject 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 a secretary of the Anglo-Albanian Society, launched in 1918.
Edith Durham’s studies of Balkan ethnography led to gifts of artefacts to the British Museum, the Pitt Rivers Museum and others. Her photographs and sketches of the region were given to the Royal Anthropological Institute where she was a council member and the first woman’s vice-president. As well as collecting she also published books on the subject including 'Some Tribal Origins, Laws and Customs of the Balkans' (1928).
Balkan traveller, author and anthropologist