by Paul Clements
13 Oct 2022
The first full account of a truly remarkable life. 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 humour, and had earned her a passionate readership around the world.
Morris's life was no less fascinating than her oeuvre. Born in 1926, she spent her childhood amidst Oxford's Gothic beauty and later participated in military service in Italy and the Middle East, before embarking on 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 sixties, 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 and at times paradoxical life are brought together.
Based on a wealth of interviews, archival material, and hitherto unpublished documents, Jan Morris: life from both sides portrays a person of extraordinary talent, curiosity, and joie de vivre.