Jan Morris

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Jan Morris
Born (1926-10-02) 2 October 1926 (age 93)
Clevedon, Somerset, England
Occupation Travel writer
Nationality Welsh
Genre Non-fiction, travel writing

Jan Morris, CBE, FRSL (born James Humphrey Morris, 2 October 1926) is a Welsh historian, author and travel writer. She is 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 City.

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


In the closing stages of the Second World War Morris served in the 9th Queen's Royal Lancers, 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 in the event was the first to scale Mount Everest. Morris reported the success of Hillary and Tenzing in a coded message to the newspaper, "Snow conditions bad stop advanced base abandoned yesterday stop awaiting improvement", 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]

Morris opposed the Falklands War.[3]

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 began medical transition in 1964.[4] 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.[4] They divorced later, but remained together and on 14 May 2008 were legally reunited when they formally entered into a civil partnership.[5] Morris lives mostly in North Wales, between the mountains and the sea.


Jan Morris has received honorary doctorates from the University of Wales and the University of Glamorgan, is an honorary fellow of Christ Church Oxford and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She received the Glyndŵr Award in 1996.[citation needed]

She accepted her CBE in the 1999 Queen's Birthday Honours "out of polite respect", but is a Welsh nationalist republican at heart.[6] In 2005, she was awarded the Golden PEN Award by English PEN for "a Lifetime's Distinguished Service to Literature".[7][8] In January 2008, The Times named her the 15th greatest British writer since the War.[5]

Partial bibliography



  • Coast to Coast (published in the US as As I Saw the USA; 1956: winner of the 1957 Cafe Royal Prize)
  • Sultan in Oman (1957)
  • The Market in Seleukia (1957)
  • South African Winter (1958)
  • The Hashemite Kings (1959)
  • Venice (1960: winner of the 1961 Heinemann Award)
  • The Presence of Spain (1964)
  • Spain (1964)
  • Oxford (1965)
  • The Great Port: A Passage through New York (1969)
  • The Venetian Empire (1980)
  • A Venetian Bestiary (1982)
  • The Matter of Wales (1984)
  • Spain (1988)
  • Hong Kong (1988)
  • Sydney (1992)
  • Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere (2001)
  • The World: Life and Travel 1950-2000 (2003)
  • Contact! A Book of Encounters (2010)


  • The Road to Huddersfield: A Journey to Five Continents (1963)
  • The Outriders: A Liberal View of Britain (1963)
  • Cities (1963)
  • Places (1972)
  • Travels (1976)
  • Destinations (1980)
  • Wales; The First Place (1982, reprinted 1998)
  • Journeys (1984)
  • Among the Cities (1985)
  • Locations (1992)
  • O Canada! (1992)
  • Contact! A Book of Glimpses (2009)


  • The Pax Britannica Trilogy:
    • Heaven’s Command: An Imperial Progress (1973). Book 1. Covering the period 1837 to 1897
    • Pax Britannica: The Climax of Empire (1968). Book 2.
    • Farewell the Trumpets: An Imperial Retreat (1978). Book 3. Covering the period 1897 to 1965
  • The Spectacle of Empire: Style, Effect and the Pax Britannica (1982)
  • Stones of Empire: Buildings of the Raj (1983) (by Jan Morris with photographs by Simon Winchester)


  • Fisher's Face (1995)


  • Conundrum, US: Harcourt Brace (1974) (personal narrative of transsexualism)
  • Wales, The First Place (1982)
  • Pleasures of a Tangled Life (1989)
  • "Herstory" (1999)
  • Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere (2001)
  • A Writer's House in Wales (2002)


  • Coronation Everest (1958)



Short stories

  • The Upstairs Donkey, and Other Stolen Stories (1961)


  • Manhattan '45 (hardcover 1987, paperback 1998)
  • Over Europe (Weldon Owen, 1991) - Jan Morris provided the text for this post-Cold War photographic project
  • Fifty Years of Europe: An Album (1997) - published in 2006 as Europe - An Intimate Journey
  • The Oxford Book of Oxford (editor)
  • The Matter of Wales: Epic Views of a Small Country
  • Lincoln: A Foreigner's Quest (2001)
  • Our First Leader
  • Thrilling Cities written by Ian Fleming. Jan Morris provided the introduction for the 2009 edition published by Ian Fleming Publications.

See also


  1. Venables, Stephen (2003). To the top: the story of Everest. London: Walker Books. p. 63. ISBN 0-7445-8662-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Rusbridger, Alan (10 July 2006). "Courage Under Fire". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 March 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Authors Take Sides on the Falklands (Review)", W. L. Webb, The Guardian Weekly, August 29th, (p.21).
  4. 4.0 4.1 Morris, Jan (2006). Conundrum. New York Review of Books. p. 174. ISBN 978-1-59017-189-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 McSmith, Andy (4 June 2008). "Love story: Jan Morris - Divorce, the death of a child and a sex change... but still together". The Independent. Retrieved 12 March 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Frost, Caroline. "Jan Morris:A Profile". BBC Four website.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Golden Pen Award, official website". English PEN. Retrieved 3 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Gillian Fenwick (2008). "Chronology". Traveling Genius: The Writing Life of Jan Morris. Univ of South Carolina Press. p. XX. Retrieved 3 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links