Jan Morris, famous writer of place and history, died at 94


“I think out of sheer exuberance the best day of my life was my last on Everest,” Morris wrote in “Conundrum”. “The mountain had been climbed and I had already started my run on the glacier towards Kathmandu, leaving the expedition to pack their equipment behind me.

She continued: “I heard on the radio that my news reached London in a providential way on the eve of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. I felt like I had been crowned myself. For a Britain that was rapidly losing its empire, the conquest of Everest was greeted with nationalist euphoria.

As a correspondent for The Times and later The Guardian, Morris wrote about wars, famines and earthquakes and reported on the trial in Israel of Adolph Eichmann, the convicted and executed Nazi war criminal. for his leading role in the extermination of millions of Jews.

Morris also covered the Moscow trial of Francis Gary Powers, the American spy plane pilot shot down over the Soviet Union. Morris traveled to Havana to interview Che Guevara, the revolutionary leader, described in “Conundrum” as “sharp as a cat”, and again to Moscow to meet with British intelligence defector Guy Burgess, who was “swollen with drink and self-reproach. “

It was in the early 1960s that Morris met a prominent New York endocrinologist, Dr. Harry Benjamin, one of the first researchers on transgender people.

He advised Morris on a slow transition process that began with large doses of female hormones – around 12,000 pills from 1964 to 1972, by the writer’s own calculations. Morris wrote: “I was about to change form and appearance – my status too, maybe my place among my peers, my attitudes no doubt, the reactions I would evoke, my reputation, my fashion. of life, my outlook, my emotions, maybe my abilities.

From the start of Morris’s marriage, she had confided her feelings about her gender identity to his wife, Elizabeth Tuckniss, the daughter of a tea farmer.


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