Prolific travel writer, journalist, soldier and novelist Jan Morris has died aged 94.
Morris wrote more than 40 books including a notable trilogy about Britain’s empire, Pax Britannica, during the 1960s and 70s.
Jan Morris wrote more than 40 books including a notable trilogy about Britain’s empire, Pax Britannicahttps://t.co/VhOr51kAnJ— BBC Wales News (@BBCWalesNews) November 20, 2020
In 1972, she transitioned from male to female, undergoing gender reassignment surgery and changing her name from James to Jan.
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.
Elizabeth was Morris’s wife before Morris transitioned – they had five children together and stayed together, later entering a civil partnership.
Morris told Michael Palin in 2016: “I’ve enjoyed my life very much. I admire it. I think it has been a very good and interesting life.”
She is arguably most famous for her widely admired travel writing, and Palin said: “She’s kind of a non-fiction novelist. She creates an image and a feeling of a place that stays in your mind.”
The author also wrote fiction, however, and her book Last Letters from Hav made the Booker Prize shortlist in 1985. It was a novel written in the form of travel literature.
Morris was particularly renowned as a journalist for announcing the ascent of Everest, in an exclusive scoop for The Times in 1953.
Travelling as James, she accompanied Edmund Hillary as far as the base camp on the mountain, to witness the historic attempt on the summit.
The news was announced on the same day as the Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.
Morris wrote about her transition in her 1974 book Conundrum, which was hugely successful.
She wrote in the book about having surgery in a clinic in Casablanca. The Guardian described it as a “powerful and beautifully written document”.