A country the size of Wales with a population of just under three million people, Albania adjoins Greece and the countries of the former Yugoslavia, and by sea is close to Italy. The capital is Tirana, and the language is Indo-European but unrelated to Greek, Serbo- Croat or Italian. The country declared itself independent of the Ottoman Empire in 1912, its democratic government overthrown by the self-proclaimed King Zog in 1924, and in the interwar years many Britons were floating around, diplomatic relations having been established in 1922 - British policemen trained the Albanian gendarmerie, and the Anglo-Persian Oil Company had a concession to exploit any oil reserves that might be discovered. 
Margaret Hasluck 1885-1948 was a Scottish geographer and ethnographer who came to Albania from where she contributed articles to specialist journals. The daughter of Morayshire farmer John Hardie, she read classics at Aberdeen and then went up to Newnham College Cambridge from where she was unable to collect her First Class Honours degree until the rules were changed in 1924. Several of her family members were far travelled, and she went to the British School of Archaeology in Athens where she fell in love with its director Frederick Hasluck. Their marriage in 1912 was seen by some as scandalous, but he contracted TB, continuing his research into Christian/Islamic relationships in the Ottoman Empire while transferring between sanatoria but died in 1920, leaving Margaret a widow at 35, but his work has endured as a standard reference. 
A travel grant in 1921 from Aberdeen enabled her to become established for the first time in Albania. She spent sixteen years there, researching and publishing on topics as diverse as Roma customs, Albanian grammar and blood feud, and settling in 1935 at the town of Elbasani where she is remembered to this day as the "little Englishwoman". She became friendly with intellectual Lef Nosi who had been a signatory of Albania's Declaration of Independence, and worked with him on investigating folklore and ethnography in the mountain villages of Shpati near Elbasani.
Throughout this time Italian influence was becoming ever more dominant in Albanian economic life, and just before Mussolini invaded the country Margaret was expelled from Albania. She ended up in Cairo where the Special Operations Executive recruited her to explore ways to encourage resistance in occupied Albania. She briefed over a hundred SOE operatives including Julian Amery and Anthony Quayle before they were parachuted into the country, taught them the rudiments of the language (which saved Quayle's life when his recitation of a nursery rhyme defused tension in a confrontation with partisans) and both provided and collated intelligence.
As SOE came to concentrate on supporting the partisans, at the expense of the non-Communist resistance, Margaret became increasingly disillusioned. She resigned from SOE in 1944, about the same time that she was diagnosed with leukaemia and was told she had only a short time to live.
Nosi had agreed to participate in a quisling Council of Regency set up by the Germans after Italy's capitulation, and after liberation not surprisingly he was tried and shot. Margaret wrote a personal letter to partisan leader Enver Hoxha, pleading for clemency. Not only was the appeal unsuccessful but the Communist Government put it about that she and Nosi had been lovers in an attempt to destroy both their reputations.
Margaret died in October 1948, and is buried with her parents, brothers and sisters in the churchyard at Dallas. Her house in Elbasoni, built on land that she bought from Nosi, is now a state kindergarten. Across the street, also on her land, is a children's home where there is a plaque on the wall outside, unveiled by her nephew in 2010 in commemoration of the 125th anniversary of her birth. She sent many ethnographic artefacts and photographs back to Aberdeen including medicinal minerals and herbs, amulets and children's toys which can be viewed in the University's image database. Some of the folk tales that she and Nosi collected and translated together have been published. Her comprehensive study The Unwritten Law in Albania was published posthumously. 
Officially declared an atheist state in 1967, Albania is today a thriving society free of the kind of religious divide found elsewhere in the Balkans. Many of its citizens work abroad, sending money home, and there is probably an unconscious nostalgia for the stability enjoyed in times past.