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Travel writer and trans pioneer Jan Morris dies aged 94



Travel writer and trans pioneer Jan Morris has died at the age of 94.

The author had dozens of books published throughout her illustrious career including her famous trilogy Pax Britannica on the British Empire.

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She also had a successful career in journalism and she broke the story about the first successful ascent of Mount Everest in 1953.

Ms Morris accompanied Sir Edmund Hillary as far as the basecamp of Everest.

A statement from her agent said: “This morning at 11.40 at Ysbyty Bryn Beryl near Pwllheli in Llyn, Wales, Jan Morris, author and traveller, set off on her greatest journey.

“She leaves behind her partner of seventy years, Elizabeth, and their four children.”

‘Trailblazer’

Ms Morris, who was made a CBE in 1999, came out publicly as transgender as she transitioned to female in 1972. Her book Conundrum, published two years later, reflected on her experience of changing her gender.

Elizabeth married Jan before her transition and the couple stayed together afterwards, though they were required to divorce due to the ban on same-sex marriages at the time. In 2008 they were able to be legally united once again, entering a civil partnership.

She accompanied Sir Edmund Hillary as far as the basecamp of Everest (Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire)

She also wrote fiction, including her novel Hav, which was published in 2006.

The book was formed partly of an earlier work she had published in 1985, titled Last Letters From Hav, which had made it onto the Booker Prize shortlist.

Manhattan ’45, her account of post war New York, and Venice, a travel book a about the Italian city which was published in 1960, were also among her successful works.

Ms Morris was born in Somerset to an English mother and a Welsh father, and also served in the army towards the end of the Second World War.

She went on to study English at Oxford University.

‘Extraordinary’

Morris’ publisher Faber Books paid tribute to her in a statement.

“A trailblazer and an extraordinary life force, her wonderful, generous books opened up the world for so many people. We are honoured to have been her publisher for over 60 years.”

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford also shared a message about the writer.

“Very sad to hear of the passing of Jan Morris,” he tweeted.

“Such an incredibly talented author and what an amazing life she had. She was a real treasure to Wales. My thoughts are with her family and friends at this time.”

Labour MP for Cardiff North Anna McMorrin added that Morris was “an incredible writer, pioneer and historian”.

Morris’s book Venice was described as Michael Palin as “one of the most influential books of my life”.

“Her description of the city transcended any conventional travel writing I’ve come across. Morris’s heart and soul was in the book. It was like a love affair,” he said.

“Her book started my own love affair with the city, which has lasted all my life. And as a writer she taught me the importance of curiosity and observation.”

Additional reporting from Press Association.