Jan Morris

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Jan Morris
Jan Morris (born James Humphrey Morris, 1926) was an historian, author and travel writer. She was known particularly for the Pax Britannica trilogy (1968-78), a history of the British Empire, and for portraits of cities, notably Oxford, Venice, Trieste, Hong Kong, and New York.

Born in England of an English mother and Welsh father, Morris was educated at Lancing College, West Sussex, and Christ Church, Oxford, but considered herself Welsh. She was a trans woman and was published under her birth name until 1972, when she transitioned to living as female.


In the closing stages of the Second World War Morris served in the 9th Queen's Royal Lancer, and in 1945 was posted to the Free Territory of Trieste, during the joint Anglo-American occupation.

After the war Morris wrote for The Times, and in 1953 was its correspondent accompanying the British Mount Everest Expedition, which was the first to scale Mount Everest. She reported the success of Hillary and Tenzing in a coded message to the newspaper, and by happy coincidence the news was released on the morning of Queen Elizabeth's coronation.[1]

Reporting from Cyprus on the Suez Crisis for The Manchester Guardian in 1956, Morris produced the first "irrefutable proof" of collusion between France and Israel in the invasion of Egyptian territory, interviewing French Air Force pilots who confirmed that they had been in action in support of Israeli forces.[2]

Personal life

In 1949, Morris married Elizabeth Tuckniss, the daughter of a tea planter; they had five children together, including the poet and musician Twm Morys. One of their children died in infancy.

Morris was assigned male at birth and began medical transition in 1964.[3] In 1972, Morris travelled to Morocco to undergo sex reassignment surgery, performed by surgeon Georges Burou, because doctors in Britain refused to allow the procedure unless Morris and Tuckniss divorced, something Morris was not prepared to do at the time.[3] They divorced later, but remained together and on 14 May 2008 were legally reunited when they formally entered into a civil partnership.[4] Morris lived mostly in Wales, the land of her father.


She accepted her CBE in the 1999 Queen's Birthday Honours "out of polite respect", but was a Welsh nationalist republican at heart.[5] In 2005, she was awarded the Golden PEN Award for "a Lifetime's Distinguished Service to Literature".[6][7] In January 2008, The Times named her the 15th greatest British writer since the War.[4]

She was listed under "Lifetime Achievement Awards" in the Pink List 2011. She died 20 November 2020.


Based on a Wikipedia article.

  1. Stephen Venables "To the top: the story of Everest" Walker Books 2003 isbn=0-7445-8662-3
  2. http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2006/jul/10/pressandpublishing.egypt Alan Rusbridger "Courage Under Fire" The Guardian 10 July 2006
  3. 3.0 3.1 Jan Morris Conundrum New York Review of Books] 2006 page=174 isbn=978-1-59017-189-9
  4. 4.0 4.1 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/love-story-divorce-the-death-of-a-child-and-a-sex-change-but-still-together-839602.html Andy McSmith "Love story: Jan Morris - Divorce, the death of a child and a sex change... but still together" The Independent 4 June 2008
  5. http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/documentaries/profile/profile_jan_morris.shtml Caroline Frost "Jan Morris:A Profile" BBC Four
  6. http://www.englishpen.org/prizes/golden-pen-award-for-a-lifetimes-distinguished-service-to-literature "Golden Pen Award, official website" English PEN
  7. http://books.google.com/books?id=wHMEVRxWx6UC&pg=PR20 Gillian Fenwick "Traveling Genius: The Writing Life of Jan Morris" Univ of South Carolina Press 2008