Jan Morris's Change of Gender

Devon Pike '93 (1990)

On October 2, 1926 in Clevedon, Somerset, England, Jan Morris was born James Humphrey Morris, one of the five children of Walter and Enid Morris. Her early life was truly one of emotional conflict, due not only to her parents' divorce, but also in light of her masculinity. In her autobiography, Morris states: "I was three or perhaps four years old when I realized that I had been born into the wrong body, and should really be a girl." (Conundrum). Morris amended this blunder of nature with a gender role change, begun with medication in 1964 and finalized by surgery in 1972.

Regardless of this early revelation, Morris in fact began her writing while still physically male. Established as one of Britain's top journalists at the age of 27, (s)he launched his career with an account of Hillary and Tenzing's Mt. Everest expedition in 1953. Morris was known for history and travel books, and covered wars and rebellions across the globe.

In 1974, Newsweek realized the value inherent in Morris's combination of transsexuality and travel writings, calling his autobiography, Conundrum, "certainly the best first-hand account ever written by a traveler across the boundaries of sex. That journey is perhaps the ultimate adventure for a human being, but although it has been the subject of myth and speculation since ancient times, it is an authentically modern experience." Jan Morris's writings and experiences offer to us a unique view of the mysterious and the possible, things both unknown and/or unrecognized.

United Kingdom Last Letters from Hav