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Jan Morris

© National Portrait Gallery, London. Photo credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

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James Morris served in the army during and after the Second World War, developing a taste for travel. After studying at Oxford, James worked in journalism. In 1953 Morris accompanied Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing to Everest. This was followed by many more journeys, the resulting books winning literary prizes. The British Empire and its decline has remained an enduring interest, captured in the Pax Britannica trilogy (1968–1978). At the same time, Morris undertook a very different inner journey, 'having realised from an early age that I had been born in the wrong body, and should really be a girl'. In 1972 Morris underwent gender change surgery. Taking the name Jan, she wrote Conundrum (1974) describing her experiences.

National Portrait Gallery, London





oil on canvas


H 116.8 x W 121.9 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Commissioned, 2005

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National Portrait Gallery, London

St Martin’s Place, London, Greater London WC2H 0HE England

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