|Born||October 2, 1926
Clevedon, Somerset, England
|Genres||non-fiction, travel writing|
Jan Morris CBE (b. 2 October 1926, Clevedon, Somerset, England) is a Welsh nationalist, historian, author and travel writer. She is known particularly for the Pax Britannica trilogy, a history of the British Empire, and for portraits of cities, notably Oxford, Venice, Trieste, Hong Kong, and New York City.
With an English mother and Welsh father, Morris was educated at Lancing College, West Sussex, and Christ Church, Oxford, but now considers herself Welsh. A gender re-assigned woman, she was published under her former name, James Morris, until the 1970s.
Morris served in World War II in the 9th Queen's Royal Lancers, and later wrote for The Times. As a correspondent for The Times, Morris scored a notable scoop in 1953 when accompanying the British expedition which was first to scale Mount Everest. Morris reported the success of Hillary and Tenzing in a coded message to the newspaper, "Snow conditions bad stop advanced base abandoned yesterday stop awaiting improvement", and by happy coincidence the news was released on the morning of Queen Elizabeth's coronation.
Reporting from Cyprus on the Suez Crisis for The Manchester Guardian in 1956, Morris produced the first "irrefutable proof" of collusion between France and Israel in the invasion of Egyptian territory, interviewing French Air Force pilots who confirmed that they had been in action in support of Israeli forces.
As a soldier, Morris was posted in Trieste in 1945 during the joint Anglo-American occupation.
In 1949, Morris married Elizabeth Tuckniss, the daughter of a tea planter; they had five children together, including the poet and musician Twm Morys. One of their children died in infancy.
Male at birth, Morris began medical transition in 1964. In 1972, Morris traveled to Morocco to undergo sex reassignment surgery, performed by surgeon Georges Burou, because doctors in Britain refused to allow the procedure unless Morris and Tuckniss divorced, something Morris was not prepared to do at the time. They divorced later, but remained together and on 14 May 2008 were legally reunited when they formally entered into a Civil Partnership. Morris lives mostly in Wales, the land of her father.
Morris has received honorary doctorates from the University of Wales and the University of Glamorgan, is an honorary fellow of Christ Church Oxford and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She received the Glyndŵr Award in 1996.
She accepted her CBE in the 1999 Queen's Birthday Honours "out of polite respect", but is a Welsh nationalist republican at heart. In January 2008 The Times named her the 15th greatest British writer since the War.
History - The Pax Britannica Trilogy:
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