Literature Matters – RSL 200: Celebrating Jan Morris

Images of Jan Morris, Shahidha Bari, Pico Iyer, Sarah Moss and C N Lester

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A celebration of the life of great travel writer and Royal Society of Literature (RSL) Fellow Jan Morris on the first anniversary of her death.

This is an online only event hosted on the British Library platform. Bookers will be sent a viewing link shortly before the event and will be able to watch at any time for 48 hours after the start time.

‘Book lovers will understand me, and they will know too that part of the pleasure of a library lies in its very existence.’ – Jan Morris

Friends and admirers of travel writer Jan Morris’s work take a journey through her writing life from the summit of Mount Everest, via the canals of Venice and occupied Trieste to North Wales. Pico Iyer, C N Lester and RSL Fellow Sarah Moss, join Shahidha Bari to discuss Jan's remarkable impact and ongoing influence on literature today.

Purchase a copy of new anthology Allegorizings by Jan Morris with tickets at checkout for £17.99 (with UK postage) and watch the event for free. International postage will be higher. Books will be posted out within 7 days after the event. Please ensure your address is up to date on your British Library account.

Presented in partnership with the Royal Society of Literature. RSL 200 is the Royal Society of Literature’s bicentenary event series bringing together some of the world's best-known writers to explore the impact of literature on their lives.  

Jan Morris was born in 1926 to a Welsh father and an English mother, and when she was not travelling she lived with her partner, Elizabeth Morris, in the top left-hand corner of Wales, between the mountains and the sea. Her books include Coronation Everest, Venice, The Pax Britannica Trilogy, and her memoir, Conundrum. She is also the author of six books about cities and countries, two autobiographical books, several volumes of collected travel essays and the unclassifiable Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere. A collection of her travel writing and reportage from over five decades, A Writer's World, was published in 2003. Her novel, Hav, was published in a new and expanded form in 2006. She died at the age of 94 in 2020. Allegorizings, a reflection on key moments and memories from Morris's eventful life, will be published by Faber on 4 November 2021.


C N Lester is an academic, multi-disciplinary musician, and leading UK LGBTI activist. They curate the ‘Transpose’ arts event for Barbican and work internationally as a trans and feminist educator and speaker. Their work has featured on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4, SBS, The Guardian, ABC, The Independent, Newsnight, and at Sydney Opera House. Lester co-founded the first national UK group for young LGBTI people.

Pico Iyer, ‘arguably the world’s greatest living travel writer’, according to Outside magazine, is the author of 15 books of fiction and non-fiction, translated into 23 languages. He has been a regular essayist for 35 years for Time, The New York Times, Harper's and more. On-screen, his TED talks have received over 11 million views. Most recently, in the summer of 2019, he served as Ferris Professor at Princeton University, Guest Director of the Telluride Film Festival and the first official writer-in-residence at Raffles Hotel Singapore.

Sarah Moss is the author of eight novels including the Sunday Times top 10 bestseller Summerwater, and Ghost Wall, which was longlisted for the Women’s Prize and shortlisted for the RSL Ondaatje Prize. She was born in Glasgow and grew up in the north of England. She now lives in Dublin, where she teaches English and creative writing at University College Dublin (UCD). Her new novel, The Fell, will be published by Picador in November 2021.

Shahidha Bari is Professor of Fashion Cultures and Histories at the University of the Arts London, the author of Dressed: The Secret Life of Clothes, and a Presenter of BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking, the Arts and Ideas podcast.

Image of Jan Morris (left), Shahidha Bari (top centre), Pico Iyer (top right), Sarah Moss (bottom right) and C N Lester (bottom centre).

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Name: Literature Matters – RSL 200: Celebrating Jan Morris
Where: British Library St Pancras
When: -
Price: Online Full Price: £5.00
Online Member: £5.00
Online Event w/book (Allegorizings by Jan Morris) UK postage: £17.99
Online Event w/book (Allegorizings by Jan Morris) Non-UK postage: £22.49
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546