Jan Morris, historian and journalist, dies aged 94

Lawrence Kim
November 22, 2020

Welsh historian, author and travel writer Jan Morris has passed away aged 94.

Born James Morris in Somerset in 1926, Morris underwent a gender reassignment surgery and changed her name to Jan in 1972.

She ranked highly among travel writers, with Publishers Weekly once calling her "one of the most admired and imitated travel writers alive".

Manhattan '45, her account of post war NY, and Venice, a travel book a about the Italian city which was published in 1960, were also among her successful works.

"Very sad to hear of the passing of Jan Morris", he tweeted. Her ground-breaking memoir Conundrum, written 46 years ago about risky and experimental surgery, is an elegant classic of the gender genre and still in print, a slender volume that poetically and comprehensively addresses today's transsexuality debate.

A book of essays, Allegorizings, musings on ageing and the complexity of life, will be published posthumously. A BBC journalist asked her on camera if she had a "full sex life" and Morris was forced to divorce.

"Such an incredibly talented author and what an incredible life she had".

Elizabeth was Morris's wife before Morris transitioned - they had five children together and stayed together, later entering a civil partnership. "I admire it. I think it has been a very good and interesting life".

In a 2008 interview with Reuters, Morris said she had been "personally concerned with my own death for ages".

"It's under the stairs at home; it has been there ever since". She served in the British Army in the closing stages of World War II before joining The Times as a correspondent.

She died on 20th November at a hospotal in Pwllheli, Wales. She was awarded a CBE in 1999, which she said she accepted out of politeness, being a staunch Welsh nationalist.

Tributes about her flooded social media on Friday.

Mr Paul Jenkins, chief executive of The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, Britain's leading gender identity clinic, tweeted: "Her attractive writing touched so many of my worlds".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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