‘Conundrum is the nearest thing Jan has written to an autobiography. But as she herself acknowledges, in a sense all her writing is autobiographical. Her books represent conversations between Jan Morris and the places she is writing about. Her approach is wholly subjective, and it is hardly an exaggeration to say that she has imposed her personality on the entire world. Yet Conundrum is indeed unique among her books.’
James Morris was a daring foreign reporter who scooped news of the first ascent of Everest in 1953. During the 1950s and ’60s Morris also produced a succession of brilliant travel books, the most famous of which capture the spirit of ancient cities such as Venice and Trieste, as well as the great trilogy on the history of the British Empire, Pax Britannica.
In 1972 James booked a return ticket to Casablanca and underwent what would now be called gender reassignment surgery. Soon afterwards Jan Morris wrote a book about what it had felt like to live – or try to live – for forty odd years with the absolute conviction that she was a woman trapped in a man’s body and how this agony had finally been resolved. How James finally became Jan is an extraordinary story, and her memoir Conundrum is a gripping and thought-provoking read. We do hope you’ll enjoy this extract from Chapter 7.
Please scroll down to view Conundrum as a single title or as part of a set, as well as a selection of her other books – or, as perhaps we should say, ‘conversations between Jan Morris and the places she is writing about’.
With best wishes, as ever, from the SF office staff
Jennie, Anna, Hattie & Jess