Miss Mary Edith Durham (Biographical details)

Miss Mary Edith Durham (anthropologist; British; Female; 1863 - 1944)

Also known as

Durham, Mary Edith; Durham, Edith


116A King Henry's Road, London NW.


Traveller and anthropologist. Born London, attended Bedford College (1878-82), then Royal Academy Schools. Began to travel rough in the then hardly visited Balkans from 1900 for the next twenty years. She worked for a number of relief organisations and became a champion of the Albanian mountaineers whose lands were coveted by neighbouring nations. Her studies of Balkan ethnography led to a series of books, of which 'High Albania' is the best known and is still regarded as the best guide to the customs and society of the highlands of northern Albania.
Her papers are held by the Royal Anthropological Institute, London, her diaries are in the Bankfield Museum, Halifax, along with her collection of Balkan costume and jewellery given in 1935. Further gifts of mostly Balkan artefacts were made to the British Museum in 1914, and to the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford and the Horniman Museum in London.


Durham's own books include 'The burden of the Balkans', 1905; 'High Albania', 1909; Some Tribal Origins, Laws and Customs of the Balkans' 1923.

See also B. Destani (ed), 'M. Edith Durham, Albania and the Albanians: selected articles and letters, 1903-44', Centre for Albanian Studies, 2001

For the Bankfield collection, see L. E. Start, 'The Durham Collection of Garments and Embroideries from Albania and Jugoslavia', Calderdale Museums, Halifax, 1939