By Matt Schudel,
As a young reporter, Jan Morris was on the mountainside, at 22,000 feet, when the first expedition in history reached the top of Mount Everest. She reported on wars and revolutions around the globe, published dozens of elegant books exploring far-flung places and times and was regarded as perhaps the greatest travel writer of her time.
Yet the most remarkable journey of her life was across a private border, when she cast off her earlier identity as James Morris and became Jan Morris.
A writer of extraordinary range and productivity, and one of the world’s first well-known transgender public figures, Ms. Morris was 94 when she died Nov. 20 at a hospital in the Welsh town of Pwllheli. Her son Twm Morys announced the death in a statement but did not state the cause.
Jan Morris spent her first 45 years as James Morris, who had been a British cavalry officer, a World War II veteran and a dashing reporter renowned for international adventures and evocative writing.
“On the face of things,” a onetime colleague, David Holden, wrote in 1974, “a less likely candidate for a sex change than James Morris would have been hard to imagine. His whole career and reputation had created an aura of glamorous and successful masculinity.”