Jan Morris: Tributes paid to writer, traveller and trans pioneer after death aged 94

  • london
  • November 20, 2020
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ributes have been paid to the writer, traveller and trans pioneer Jan Morris who has died aged 94.

Morris shot to worldwide fame in 1953 when, as James Morris, she accompanied Edmund Hillary to Everest and scooped the world’s press by being the first to announce his successful ascent to the top.

The news was announced on the same day as the Queen’s coronation in 1953.

Morris transitioned to Jan after undergoing gender reassignment in 1972 and was the author of more than three dozen books.

Her writing included several volumes of travel books shedding light on destinations as different as post-war Manhattan, Hong Kong and the troubled city of Trieste which she first visited as a young officer at the end of the Second World War.

It is a mark of her long and eclectic career that her books include a best-selling historical trilogy about the rise and fall of the British Empire – Pax Brittanica — and the account of her transition from James to Jan.

Conundrum recounts her journey to Morocco where she underwent surgery — something British doctors would only do if she divorced her wife Elizabeth, which she refused to do.

They did divorce later but remained together and in 2008 were legally reunited when they entered into a civil partnership.

Her son Twm announced her death, saying she was on her “greatest journey”.

“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 life-long partner, Elizabeth,” he said.

Her publisher, Faber Books, described her as a “trailblazer”.

Fellow writer Robert Macfarlane said she “was one of the most extraordinary, inspiring, kindest people I ever had the luck to meet”.

Born to a Welsh father and an English mother, she became a fervent Welsh nationalist and settled with Elizabeth and their children in a rural corner of the country.

In an interview four years ago, she said that when she and Elizabeth died they would be buried together on an island in a stream near their home under a stone that says “Here lie two friends, at the end of one life.”