Pax Britannica: Climax of an Empire

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Remembering Jan Morris

At The Daily Beast, journalist Katherine O’Donnell offers a tribute to Welsh historian, prolific author, and pioneering trans woman Jan Morris, who passed away on November 20. “Her Pax Britannica trilogy, a history of the British Empire, would alone cement a literary and academic reputation. I’m 55 and I’ve been reading her since I was a teen and I’m barely halfway through her canon and they may yet see me out. Despite sixty years of critical acclaim, Morris didn’t even think that Venice was her best work; that, she said, was her book Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere.” In addition to her memoir Conundrum, Morris is best known for her books on travel; however, she was not a fan of the travel writer label. “As Virgil was to Dante, you can feel Morris’s hand on your elbow, her voice and her presence runs through all of her writing. She described her books as an extended form of memoir: ‘They are one and all about the effects of everything on me,’ she told an interviewer who had begun by asking her why she disliked the term travel writer. ‘My books amount to one enormously self-centered autobiographical exposure! So I prefer to be described as simply—a writer.’”

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