Remembering Jan Morris 1926–2020

Welsh Books Council

Remembering Jan Morris 1926–2020 - 23 November 2020

On 20 November 2020, Wales lost one of its great literary figures following the death of Jan Morris at the age of 94.

A journalist, novelist, travel writer and historian, she wrote more than 40 books during her lifetime, including Pax Britannica (Faber, 1968, 1973, 1978), a trilogy on the history of the British Empire; The Matter of Wales: Epic Views of a Small Country (Oxford University Press, 1984) and Conundrum (Faber & Faber, 2002), a memoir recording her transition from man to woman, from James to Jan Morris.

She was born in England in 1926 but her father was from Wales and she moved here in the 1980s, settling down with her family in Llanystumdwy on the Llŷn Peninsula.

Jan Morris was an Honorary President of the Friends of the Books Council of Wales and here, our Chair, Professor M Wynn Thomas, our Chief Executive, Helgard Krause, and Ion Thomas, Chair of the Friends of the Books Council, pay tribute to the talented writer who made Wales her home.

"During her remarkable lifetime, Jan Morris wrote enough books to supply the entire UK publishing industry. A world-famous chronicler of countries and places, and a peerless traveller of the globe, she nevertheless remained firmly anchored emotionally in the Wales she so loved and with which she totally identified. With her passing, Wales loses another of its very greatest writers and the Books Council of Wales one of its staunchest supporters" – Professor M Wynn Thomas.

"Jan Morris was a pioneer in every sense of the word. She was an unrivalled wordsmith and an eloquent chronicler of the life, culture and landscape of Wales. She will be sorely missed but leaves a rich legacy in her many books, essays and reportage" – Helgard Krause

"If anyone deserved to be called a ‘Friend’ then it was Jan Morris. After all, friendship and kindness were the traits she put above all others. Through her words, she became a friend to so many people and so many places. She was an Honorary President of the Friends of the Books Council, and her contribution to our literature and her support for the language, our culture and our identity as well as our humanism will remain. Thank you, Jan, for guiding us with a smile and a keenness of mind to the peaks of the literary world" – Ion Thomas

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