The Life and Work of F.W. and M. M. Hasluck

“Deceptively laconic, lucid, highly original, wide-ranging and skeptical, the work of F.W. Hasluck has been almost entirely ignored by the generations of scholars who have followed him. As a result, not only are his works little known outside a small number of devotees but also the inner currents of his life and thought are as yet scarcely established.”

With these words, David Shankland began his three-volume collection of essays dedicated to the life and times of F.W. Hasluck, whose firsthand account of the diverse communities of the Balkans and Anatolia provide a key, even crucial, source for information on the cultures and people of the region in during the Late Ottoman Empire (Shankland 2004). Our project, Visual Hasluck, seeks to increase the visibility of this important scholar through the publication and analysis of his monumental work, Christianity and Islam under the Sultans, but the author, Hasluck, is also interesting and significant in his own right. His life, like his work, was precocious and ahead of its time. The following text introduces the life and work of this special and important scholar and his wife who finished his work.

F. W. Hasluck

Frederick William Hasluck was an English antiquarian, archaeologist, and historian. He was born near London in 1878 to Percy and Edith Hasluck and was educated at the Leys School in Cambridge (Cambridge 2016). He continued his education in Kings College, Cambridge, and graduated in 1904 with a first class degree in Classics and also won a prestigious Browne medal for excellence in Classical Studies. In 1901, Hasluck became a student of the British School of Archaeology at Athens, and following his graduation, he became its librarian in 1905. From 1905–10 and again from 1911–15, he was assistant director and librarian of the British School. In 1912, Hasluck married Margaret Hardie, who had joined the British School the previous year. They did not have children. Throughout this period of his life, he traveled widely in the Greek islands and in Anatolia, and many of these trips were undertaken with the school’s director, Richard M. Dawkins. He wrote extensively on archaeology and ethnography, and his work frequently built upon the fieldwork of Sir William Ramsay, but the two often disagreed. In total, Hasluck published more than fifty articles and three books as a result of these travels.

The intelligence department of the British legation in Athens recruited Hasluck in the summer of 1915 because of his knowledge of the Levant. His letters from this period indicate that he did not enjoy this work, and it seems very likely to have contributed to the breakdown of his health. In 1916, tuberculosis forced him to retire to France and in 1917 to a sanatorium in Switzerland where he died on February 22, 1920 at 41 years old. He was survived by his wife, Margaret, who was a notable scholar in her own right. She clarified, edited, and published Frederick’s notes in what became Christianity and Islam.

M. M. Hasluck

Margaret Masson Hasluck (née Hardie) was an ethnographer and Albanologist. She was born in 1885 near Elgin, in the northeast of Scotland, to John and Margaret Hardie, was the eldest of nine children, and was raised jointly by her grandparents. She was educated at Elgin Academy and then went on to take first class degrees in Classics at Aberdeen and Cambridge universities. In 1910, she became the first woman nominated for a studentship at the British School of Athens despite the resistance of some members of the school, and in the following summer joined an archaeological excavation in Anatolia under William Ramsay.

Margaret met Frederick Hasluck in Athens, and the two were married at her home in Scotland in 1912. As a wedding present to her, the two took a trip to Konia in 1913. The trip was a mixed blessing: on the one hand, it enabled the foundational research that would later form much of Christianity and Islam, but on the other, she believed it was where he contracted the tuberculosis that would eventually kill him in 1920. After his death, she spent many months assembling and editing his notes for future publication.

Gradually, Margaret returned to her own work and interests. In 1921, she conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Macedonia and Albania, and from 1923 she lived in Albania where she wrote on a wide variety of topics and sent dozens of artifacts to the Marischal Museum in Aberdeen. Her work became extensive and detailed, and she is considered “the first west European scholar, male or female, to do systematic, sustained, ethnographic work” in large parts of the country (Clark 2000: 128). She was eventually forced to leave Albania in 1939 on the eve of the Italian invasion, for reasons that are unclear, and she never returned again. She spent her later years in Cairo working with the Albanian resistance, and in 1944 she was diagnosed with leukemia. After brief spells in Switzerland and Cyprus, she died in Dublin in 1948. Her most significant work outside her contributions to Christianity and Islam, was The Unwritten Law in Albania, which was published posthumously in 1954 and provided a comprehensive account of the Albanian custom of blood feud.


Frederick Hasluck published over fifty articles and three books over the course of (and after) his lifetime. Although he wrote on many topics, a recurring focus throughout is an interest in the successive cultures of the Balkans and Anatolia, especially on the historical transition between them. Most of this work remains of great value to specialists today, including works dealing with medieval and modern Smyrna (present-day İzmir), the development of the monasteries of Athos, and Genoese and Venetian influences on the Aegean. Surprisingly, he only wrote a single work on classical archaeology in a piece dedicated to the city of Cyzicus and its environs, but it is a model of competent field archaeology for its time. His other books were Athos and its Monasteries, published posthumously in 1924 with H.H. Jewel; and The Church of Our Lady of the Hundred Gates at Paros in 1920. His wedding trip to Konia in 1913 provoked his interest in the interrelationship of Christianity and Islam. The notes from this trip provided a foundation that he continued to develop until his death, and Margaret organized and published them in 1929 as Christianity and Islam under the Sultans. It became a monumental achievement and his most lasting legacy. The work has been called a “fine example of interdisciplinary research and writing, notable not just for its arcane material, but for the sensitivity, acumen, and sheet knowledge of its author.” (Lock 2004). It is this work with which Visual Hasluck (this site) is concerned.


Despite his training as a Classicist and archaeologist, Frederick Hasluck’s most valuable contribution was in the ethnographical fieldwork he conducted throughout the Balkans and Anatolia. We say ethnographical rather than ethnographic because, despite his readiness to take into account the idiosyncrasies of living societies (Shankland 2004: 29), his fieldwork predated the techniques of Malinowski and lacked the participant observation that would characterize later anthropological research. Nonetheless, he was comfortable and fluent in Modern Greek and at least conversationally proficient in Turkish, and his appointment in Athens for over a decade as well as a love of travel in the region enabled him to produce an enormous body of written and photographic evidence of the region.

Hasluck’s theoretical approach was different from his contemporaries. Ethnographical researchers of his time had a tendency to approach fieldwork as a technique for investigating the survival of social fragments of the past, but Hasluck was more interested in the way that societies fit together (Shankland 2004: 29–30). His interest in explaining how societies were organized encouraged him to adopt a much more comparative approach than his contemporaries. This in turn seems to have led him to treat society, religion, and ideology as intertwined in a causal or constitutive way, an approach that would become a presumption of anthropology much later (ibid.).

The fieldwork that produced Christianity and Islam was certainly quite close to the modern standards of anthropological research that would come later. This research was also the product of a man who despite his Orientalist entourage was able to carve an alternative path of research and analysis, more open, more pluralist and inclusive in its approach. As he himself presented early on in the book, his approach was not restricted to forms associated with conventional religion, but rather expanded to include different manifestations that could easily be perceived as un-conforming and deviant. Where the Orientalists saw religions as unmixeable bounded entities, Hasluck observed and recorded fluidity across religions, a particular appropriation of rituals and traditions indicating that Christians and Muslims lived together and shared cultural and territorial arrangements. He uncovered ambiguity and mixing because he did not come to the phenomena he observed with already established prejudices.


On Hasluck, his work and times

Shankland, David. 2004a. Archaeology, Anthropology and Heritage in the Balkans and Anatolia : The Life and Times of F.W. Hasluck, 1878-1920. 3 vols. Istanbul: Isis Press.

On F.W. Hasluck’s life

Shankland, David. 2009. “Scenes Pleasant and Unpleasant: The Life of FW Hasluck (1878-1920) at the British School at Athens.” British School at Athens Studies, 91–102.

See also:

Cambridge, University of. 2016. “Hasluck, Frederick William (HSLK897FW).” A Cambridge Alumni Database. Accessed June 9.

Lock, Peter W. 2004. “Frederick William Hasluck (1878-1920).” Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and B. Harrison. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Salmeri, Giovanni. 2004. “Frederick William Hasluck from Cambridge to Smyrna.” In Archaeology; Anthropology; Balkan Peninsula; History; 1878-1920, edited by David Shankland, 1:71–104. Istanbul, Turkey: The Isis Press.

Shankland, David. 2004b. “The Life and Times of F. W. Hasluck (1878-1920).” In Archaeology; Anthropology; Balkan Peninsula; History; 1878-1920, edited by David Shankland, 1:15–67. Istanbul, Turkey: The Isis Press.

On M.M. Hasluck’s life

Clark, Marc. 2000. “Margaret Masson Hasluck.” In Black Lambs & Grey Falcons: Women Travellers in the Balkans, edited by John B Allcock and Antonia Young, 128–54. New York: Berghahn Books.

See also:

Bailey, Roderick. 2004a. “Margaret Hasluck and the Special Operations Executive(SOE) 1942-44.” In Archaeology; Anthropology; Balkan Peninsula; History; 1878-1920, edited by David Shankland, 1:151–81. Istanbul, Turkey: The Isis Press.

———. 2004b. “Margaret Masson Hasluck (1885-1948).” Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and B. Harrison. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

On Hasluck’s Fieldwork

Albera, Dionigi. 2016. “Towards a Reappraisal of Ambiguity: In the Footsteps of Frederick W. Hasluck.” In Pilgrimage and Ambiguity: Sharing the Sacred, edited by Angela Hobart and Thierry Zarcone. London: Sean Kingston Publisher.

For the complete bibliography of Frederick and Margaret Hasluck’s works

Gill, David. 2004. “A Preliminary Bibliography of the Works of F.W. Hasluck and M.M. Hardie (Mrs. F.W. Hasluck).” In Archaeology; Anthropology; Balkan Peninsula; History; 1878-1920, edited by David Shankland, 2:485–90. Istanbul, Turkey: The Isis Press.