“No matter what topic Morris covered over the course of her nearly eight-decade career–from travel to history to her own transition–she did so with insight, elegance and unflinching honesty.” —Stuart Emmrich, Vogue
The first ever biography of a world famous author and transgender pioneer.
When Jan Morris passed away in 2020, she was considered one of Britain’s best-loved writers. The author of Venice, Pax Britannica, Conundrum, and more than fifty other books, her work was known for its observational genius, lyricism, and humor, and had earned her a passionate readership around the world.
Morris’s life was no less fascinating than her oeuvre. Born James Humphry Morris in 1926, a childhood spent amidst Oxford’s Gothic beauty and military service in Italy and the Middle East were followed by a career as an internationally feted foreign correspondent. From being the only journalist to join the first ascent of Mount Everest in 1953 to covering the trial of Adolf Eichmann, Morris’s reportage spanned many of the twentieth century’s defining moments.
However, public success masked a private dilemma that was only resolved when she transitioned genders in the late 1960s, becoming renowned as a transgender pioneer. She went on to live happily with her wife Elizabeth in Wales for another five decades, and never stopped writing and publishing.
Here, for the first time, the many strands of Morris’s rich life are brought together, portraying a person of extraordinary talent, curiosity, and joie de vivre.
Paul Clements is the author of five travel books on Ireland. He knew Jan Morris personally for thirty years.
“Perhaps the greatest travel writer of her time.” —Matt Schudel, Washington Post
“To open a book by Jan Morris is like popping the cork on a bottle of champagne: pop, fizz, then bubbles of delight.” —Scott Simon, NPR
“Distinctive, elegant, formidable … Morris made travel seem like the best way to truly be alive in one’s skin.” —Dwight Garner, New York Times