Thinking Again by Jan Morris

At getting on for 94, Jan Morris is realistic that this will probably be her last book. For the past 70 years she has roamed far and wide: as a journalist she was at the triumphant ascent of Everest in 1953 and was there too for the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961. Most famously in the early 1970s she described what it was like to be in the advance guard of gender reassignment when she transitioned from James to Jan via surgery in Casablanca. Her historical writing has tended to the epic: her trilogy on the rise and fall of the British empire, Pax Britannica, is a monumental work that feels as if it had access to every heartbeat under the searing sun.

Morris has now turned to a new way of writing that allows her to stay put. She has started to keep a diary, and it is the second instalment, covering 130 days from the beginning of spring 2018, that makes up Thinking Again. Don’t imagine, though, that there is anything reduced about this new world. Morris has long admired the diary form for its capaciousness, and sticking within a small radius of the converted north Wales barn where she now lives allows her to roam far and wide in her imagination, unfettered by time or space.

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