Lovely interview with Jan Morris in today’s Observer. She’s 93. An amazing woman – born male, army officer, Times reporter, climbed Everest, best known as a travel writer, a Welsh nationalist, changed sex, wrote a book about it, Conundrum (I’m afraid I skipped the middle chapter, describing the operation); but originally known to me for her trilogy of books about the history of the British Empire, which I reviewed positively for its literary qualities – portraying the feelings surrounding the Empire from the point of view of the imperialists themselves, which needed to be done, even if we think those feelings were misplaced. It was around then that she wrote to me, on a postcard, about my Lion’s Share, which she said she (or it may still have been ‘he’ then) had started reading in the bath and had enjoyed so much she’d not been able to put it aside until the water had got cold. My most treasured review, albeit a private one! Here’s the link to the Observer piece:
Apart from that, I’ve been immersed in the bloody life of the Norwegian King Olaf I, about whom Elgar wrote his first extended choral work, which I’m to give a paper on to the Yorkshire branch of the Elgar Society later this year.
Hence no comments yet on the extraordinary political events taking place in Britain just now, in the course of our progress from democracy to authoritarianism. For isn’t that what the current Priti Patel incident is about? – Or about the coronavirus which is currently scaring Kajsa and me off flying to visit each other now, as we had planned. We’re both elderly, and with lung problems.
Back to Jan Morris: Conundrum was the book that first got me thinking about ‘gender’, and open to ideas about ‘gender fluidity’. Bless you, Jan.