Cover image for A writer's house in Wales
A writer's house in Wales
Morris, Jan, 1926-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : National Geographic Society, [2002]

Physical Description:
143 pages : 1 map ; 21 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DA711.5 .M66 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Through an exploration of her country home in Wales, acclaimed travel writer Jan Morris discovers the heart of her fascinating country and what it means to be Welsh. Trefan Morys, Morris's home between the sea and mountains of the remote northwest corner of Wales, is the 18th-century stable block of her former family house nearby. Surrounding it are the fields and outbuildings, the mud, sheep, and cattle of a working Welsh farm.

She regards this modest building not only as a reflection of herself and her life, but also as epitomizing the small and complex country of Wales, which has defied the world for centuries to preserve its own identity. Morris brilliantly meditates on the beams and stone walls of the house, its jumbled contents, its sounds and smells, its memories and inhabitants, and finally discovers the profoundest meanings of Welshness.

Author Notes

Journalist, historian, and travel writer, Jan Morris is the renowned author of more than forty books. Her work ranges from such classics as Pax Britannica, The World of Venice, Hong Kong, and The Matter of Wales to the masterly essays published in Journeys, Destinations, and Among the Cities. She has also written a novel, Last Letters from Hav. An Honorary Litt.D. of the University of Wales and Glamorgan, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), she lives in Wales.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

With simple elegance and grace, renowned travel writer Morris (Pax Britannica) reflects on her home in Wales, its beautiful setting and the nature of being Welsh. First in a series of literary travel memoirs, this slim and charming volume offers a crisp account of the turbulent history of the Welsh and their battle to maintain their language and culture in the shadow of their more powerful neighbor. Weaving in some Welsh poetry and lore along the way, Morris leads readers on a winding road ("didn't I say we were long-winded?") to her home. "We called the building Trefan Morys, partly after the estate, partly after the Welsh spelling of my surname; and so it was I told you to be patient! that this modest old structure, built for livestock, became instead a Writer's House in Wales." Morris delivers a jaunty tour in lively, lighthearted prose. From the scent of burning wood to the bilingual weathervane atop the cupola, readers are transported by rich, romantic detail and the author's warmth. Sweetened with her observations on the architecture, countryside, neighbors, the past and the future of her country, this little book is a satisfying brew. Trefan Morys is vividly and lovingly described: the cat Ibsen, the book tower, the "untidy yard," the mystical woods surrounding the property. Via her home, her writing and her beloved Wales, Morris defiantly preserves her identity in the face of a rapid-fire communications culture. The book is humble yet astute, homespun yet profound. (Jan.) Forecast: Fans of Morris will be thrilled to have another small volume to add to their collection, especially since she claimed that the publication of this year's Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere (Forecasts, Aug. 20) was to be her last. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Morris is an esteemed journalist, historian, and author of over 40 books, including The World of Venice and The Matter of Wales. In her latest effort, which launches this new series of travel memoirs, she writes about Trefan Morys, her country home in a remote corner of Wales. Starting at her house, Morris wanders lovingly through the history of Wales as well as her own life, and discusses how the two have combined to create the structure and atmosphere that she calls home. She walks the reader through the house, retelling the thoughts, sensations, and smells she has experienced there. When describing the kitchen, for example, she starts with physical details, then discusses the history and present nature of Welsh hospitality and food, and ends by detailing the smells of a lunch she would offer to a visitor. The historical explanations and glimpses into Welsh culture are masterfully woven into the narrative and include fascinating details, such as the recipe for sgotyn, a dish composed of bread, boiling water, and salt and pepper. This beautifully written and absorbing book is recommended for all libraries. [Forthcoming books in this series include Rubert Hughes revisiting Barcelona, W.S. Merwin writing on Provence, and more. Ed.] Alison Hopkins, Queens Borough P.L., New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.