Journalist, travel writer and historian who reported the first ascent of Everest in 1953 and wrote a social history of the British empire
The greatest distance travelled by Jan Morris, who has died aged 94, was not across the Earth’s surface but between extraordinary identities: from being the golden-boy newspaper reporter James Morris to the female voyager and historian Jan Morris. James became Jan when what was then called a sex change was unexplored territory, from which she boldly sent back an early dispatch in 1974.
The 70s reaction to that transformation was at best incomprehension, at worst hostility, especially literary hostility, but Morris wrote on – publishing more than 40 books, many still in print, even though the places they describe have metamorphosed too. She became an institution after having experienced the world, and herself in it, change radically in a lifetime.
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