Jan Morris, Celebrated Writer of Place and History, Is Dead at 94 – The New York Times

Posted: November 23, 2020 at 4:55 am

I think for sheer exuberance the best day of my life was my last on Everest, she wrote in Conundrum. The mountain had been climbed, and I had already begun my race down the glacier toward Katmandu, leaving the expedition to pack its gear behind me.

She continued: I heard from the radio that my news had reached London providentially on the eve of Queen Elizabeths coronation. I felt as though I had been crowned myself. For a Britain that was fast losing its empire, the conquest of Everest was greeted with nationalistic euphoria.

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

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

It was in the early 1960s that Ms. Morris met with a prominent New York endocrinologist, Dr. Harry Benjamin, an early researcher on transgender people.

He advised her on a slow process of transition that began with heavy doses of female hormones some 12,000 pills from 1964 to 1972, according to the writers own calculations. Ms. Morris wrote, I was about to change my form and apparency my status, too, perhaps my place among my peers, my attitudes no doubt, the reactions I would evoke, my reputation, my manner of life, my prospects, my emotions, possibly my abilities.

From the very beginning of her marriage, Ms. Morris had confided her feelings about her gender identity to her wife, Elizabeth Tuckniss, the daughter of a tea planter.

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Jan Morris, Celebrated Writer of Place and History, Is Dead at 94 - The New York Times

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