Paul Clements Jan Morris: life from both sides


Code 9781911617440
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The first full account of a truly remarkable life.

When Jan Morris passed away in 2020, she was considered one of Britain's best-loved writers. The author of Venice, Pax Britannica, Conundrum, and more than fifty other books, her work was known for its observational genius, lyricism, and humour, and had earned her a passionate readership around the world.

Morris's life was no less fascinating than her oeuvre. Born in 1926, she spent her childhood amidst Oxford's Gothic beauty and later participated in military service in Italy and the Middle East, before embarking on a career as an internationally feted foreign correspondent. From being the only journalist to join the first ascent of Mount Everest in 1953 to covering the trial of Adolf Eichmann, Morris's reportage spanned many of the twentieth century's defining moments.

However, public success masked a private dilemma that was only resolved when she transitioned genders in the late sixties, becoming renowned as a transgender pioneer. She went on to live happily with her wife Elizabeth in Wales for another five decades, and never stopped writing and publishing.

Here, for the first time, the many strands of Morris's rich and at times paradoxical life are brought together. Based on a wealth of interviews, archival material, and hitherto unpublished documents, Jan Morris: life from both sides portrays a person of extraordinary talent, curiosity, and joie de vivre.

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'Life from Both Sides suggests that Jan Morris was one of the greatest writers and one of the most astonishing humans to grace the stage of English literature - her achievements mock category; her story bamboozles convention; her travels will remain unsurpassed. There are no prizes for the mighty living of life, only biographies. This will not be the last awarded to Jan Morris, but it will surely be judged the best. Beautifully written, fizzing with adventure, alight with the fire-work prose, humour, and chutzpah of its subject ... Jan Morris's was a life-changing life, and Paul Clements's is a life-lighting book.'
- Horatio Clare, author of Running for the Hills

'A beautifully written and meticulously researched biography of one of the 20th century's best writers, who had managed to pack two extraordinary lives into one unique and ever-so-gripping travelogue ... Jan herself, as I knew her, would have loved reading it.'
- Vitali Vitaliev, journalist and author of Borders Up!

'In her long and extraordinary life, Jan Morris was renowned for her many roles as a writer, a traveller, and a woman: the author of Pax Britannica, "the Flaubert of the jet age", a courageous trans pioneer, and the quixotic champion of Wales. At the same time, she never ceased to be gloriously herself, and Paul Clements's enthralling biography brings one of the great figures of the English-speaking world in the late 20th century into focus for the first time, with memorable sympathy and understanding.'
- Robert McCrum, author of The Story of English


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