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Morris, Jan

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1926-2020) UK travel writer and historian, from just after World War Two until the mid-1970s as James Morris; A Venetian Bestiary (1982) is fantasticated within its conventional frame, but she is of genuine sf interest for Last Letters from Hav (1985; exp vt as coll, Hav 2006). In the 1985 iteration, a travel writer named Morris sojourns in the vastly intricate Middle Eastern peninsula and City called Hav, a Zone safely insulated behind a great escarpment or Polder [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]; several eras (see Time Out of Sequence) cohabit within the city and the land; there are troglodytes, a "roof race", a woman who may be Immortal, a Labyrinth echoing Underground the complexities above, a sense that the world – in particular the world of cities – is illimitable. The 2006 iteration darkens the picture: the added novella, "Hav of the Myrmidons", set twenty-five years later, shows the effect of Religion on the culture of the city, after a sect of Cathars becomes dominant; their deadening effect is crushingly echoed by the concreting over of the hallowed land into a twenty-first century tourist resort: as a haven for human life, Hav has been destroyed. [JC]

Jan Morris

born Clevedon, Somerset: 2 October 1926

died Pwllheli, Gwynedd: 20 November 2020


  • A Venetian Bestiary (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1982) [hb/]
  • Last Letters from Hav (New York: Viking, 1985) [hb/Peter Goodfellow]
    • Hav (New York: New York Review Books, 2006) [exp vt of the above as coll: introduction by Ursula K Le Guin: pb/Lee Gibbons]
      • Hav (London: Faber and Faber, 2006) [with the introduction cut: hb/Lee Gibbons]


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