Jan Morris

Literary Birthday – 2 October – Jan Morris

Jan Morris was born 2 October 1926 and died 20 November 2020.


  1. Book lovers will understand me, and they will know too that part of the pleasure of a library lies in its very existence.
  2. Few conversations, at any time of life, are more stimulating, more spontaneous and more genuinely original than those long ridiculous talks we all have, when we are very young, late at night about the meaning of life.
  3. There are people everywhere who form a Fourth World, or a diaspora of their own. They are the lordly ones. They come in all colours. They can be Christians or Hindus or Muslims or Jews or pagans or atheists. They can be young or old, men or women, soldiers or pacifists, rich or poor. They may be patriots, but they are never chauvinists. They share with each other, across all the nations, common values of humour and understanding. When you are among them you know you will not be mocked or resented, because they will not care about your race, your faith, your sex, or your nationality, and they suffer fools if not gladly, at least sympathetically. They laugh easily. They are easily grateful. They are never mean. They are not inhibited by fashion, public opinion, or political correctness. They are exiles in their own communities, because they are always in a minority, but they form a mighty nation, if they only knew it. It is the nation of nowhere, and I have come to think that its natural capital is Trieste.

Jan Morris, born James Humphrey Morris, was a Welsh historian, author and travel writer. She was known  for the Pax Brittanica trilogy, and for portraits of cities, notably Oxford, Venice, and Trieste. Her 1985 novel Last Letters from Hav was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. A trans woman, she was published under her birth name until 1972, when she transitioned to living as female.

Source for image: BBC

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by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 2nd October 2017