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Petition launched for statue of ‘modern hero’ Jan Morris to take empty spot at Cardiff City Hall

23 Nov 2020 3 minutes Read
Jan Morris

A petition has been launched for a statue of author and journalist Jan Morris to take the empty plinth in Cardiff’s ‘Hall of Heroes’.

Jan Morris died on Friday at the age of 94. The petition by Yasmin Begum argues that as a Welsh historian, author and travel writer, and one of the first transgender figures in modern Welsh life, she was a “modern hero”.

Among those who paid tribute to Jan Morris were the First Minister, Mark Drakeford, who called her “a real treasure to Wales”.

An empty plinth stands in Cardiff City Hall since councillors voted to take down the marble statue of Thomas Picton.

The statue had been the subject of controversy for years due to Picton’s links to slavery and his documented torture of a teenage girl.

 

‘Hero’

The petition notes that Jan Morris CBE FRSL was a Welsh historian, author and travel writer.

“She was known particularly for the Pax Britannica trilogy (1968–1978), a history of the British Empire, and for portraits of cities, including Oxford, Venice, Trieste, Hong Kong, and New York City,” it says.

“She is a pioneer in Wales as a writer and as an Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender figure in Welsh public life. We, the undersigned, call for Cardiff Council to commission and install a statue of Jan Morris in the Hall of Heroes at City Hall, Cardiff working in conjunction with the wider community.

“We believe that Jan is a modern hero of Wales, and deserves to be recognised as such for her contribution to Welsh public life.”

Process

As a bestselling author of more than 30 books, Jan Morris was perhaps best known for her travel writing. As a journalist, she was famous for being the first to report on the ascent of Everest for The Times in 1953. She also corresponded on the Suez Crisis in 1956.

Born James Morris in Somerset in 1926, he married his wife Elizabeth Tuckniss in 1949 and they have three sons and one daughter – Twm Morys, Henry Morris, Mark Morris and Suki Morys.

In 1972 James travelled to Casablanca in Morocco for a gender reassignment operation. The process was detailed in her book Conundrum published in 1974.

In 2008, Jan and Elizabeth announced that they would remarry in a civil partnership as the law then allowed. They held a civil union ceremony in Pwllheli.

Her final book, Think Again, a collection of her diaries, was published in March.

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