Jan Morris was a Welsh historian, author and travel writer born in Somerset on 2nd October 1926. At the beginning of her career, Jan published under the name assigned to her at birth until 1972 when she had gender confirming surgery and began writing under the name Jan Morris.
Morris first joined the army in 1943, serving as an intelligence officer in Palestine before She returned to study English at Oxford and worked as a journalist. In the latter half of the Second World War, Jan Morris served in the 9th Queen’s Royal Lancers and in 1945, she was posted to the Free Territory of Trieste, during the joint British-American occupation.
Following the war, she wrote for The Times and in 1953 she was their correspondent as a member of the British Everest expedition, which was the first team to scale Mount Everest. She broke the monumental news of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s successful ascent of Everest in a coded message to the newspaper which said. “Snow conditions bad stop advanced base abandoned may twenty-nine stop awaiting improvement.”
Reporting from Cyprus, Morris also reported on the Suez Crisis for the The Manchester Guardian in 1956, providing proof of collusion between France and Israel in the invasion of Egyptian territory by interviewing French Air Force pilots who confirmed that they had been part of action that supported Israeli forces.
In 1949, Morris married Elizabeth Tuckniss and together they had 5 children including the poet and musician Twm Morys. The couple lived together in rural Wales until the sad death of Jan this year.
Morris began her transition to present as a woman in 1964. In 1972, she was forced to travel to Morocco to undergo her gender-affirming surgery because British doctors refused to complete the procedure unless Elizabeth and Jan divorced, something which Morris was unwilling to do. They did divorce later but they remained together as a couple as in 2008 they were legally reunited in a civil partnership.
Over her career, Morris’ authored more than 30 books. Her first book written under the name Jan Morris was Conundrum (1974) which detailed her transition. This book marked a pivotal point in Tran history, becoming one of the first autobiographies to discuss a personal gender transition.
Her final book, Thinking Again, which is a collection of her diary entries, was published in March this year, following the publication of her first acclaimed volume of diaries titled In My Mind, published in 2018.
Jan Morris’ son, Twm, announced her death on stating, “This morning at 11.40 at Ysbyty Bryn Beryl, on the Llyn, the author and traveller Jan Morris began her greatest journey. She leaves behind on the shore her lifelong partner, Elizabeth.”