The Baltimore Sun

Traveling Genius: The Writing Life of Jan Morris

University of South Carolina Press, $39.95

The Anglo-Welsh travel writer Jan Morris is one of the best-known and most-beloved of contemporary members of that profession. Her output is impressive. At last count, she has written or edited more than 50 books - mostly on travel and history as well as the remarkable Conundrum, her account of the sex-change operation she underwent in Casablanca in 1972. As with many if not most travel writers, all her books are at some level about herself.

"All my life, I've been the most egotistical of writers," she once said. "When I write about a city, I'm writing about a city's effect on me." It helps that she is likable and charming and that her writing is a compelling mixture of autobiography, history and culture.

In Traveling Genius, author Gillian Fenwick examines the entire canon of Morris' writing. She also discusses Morris' ardent Welsh nationalism and how it affects her work. Fenwick maintains that three places greatly influenced Morris: Oxford, Venice and Trieste. Fans of Jan Morris and her work will relish this book.

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