Jan Morris spent the South African winter of 1957 touring the country for the Guardian. This book, the product of her travels, was not a political treatise but an evocation of the atmosphere of apartheid, and an impression of life in South Africa at a time of great tension.
There are glimpses of the Johannesburg treason trial and a one-day strike in the locations of the Reef; portraits of such diverse figures as Harry Oppenheimer, the magnate-politician, and Christopher Gell, the influential liberal who spent his days in an iron lung; impressions of the Parliament, of the Zululand reserve, of life in the mines and the open veldt.
Jan Morris visited all four provinces and talked to an immense number of people of all persuasions and all walks of life, and she devotes a chapter to the individualities of the Afrikaner character, as it then struck an impartial and not unsympathetic observer.
South African Winter (1958) - in the brilliance of its writing, the wit, intelligence and sharpness of its observation - is a work of enduring fascination.
Jan Morris was born in 1926 of a Welsh father and an English mother, and when she is not travelling she lives 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 (Heaven's Command, Pax Britannica, and Farewell the Trumpets), and 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 Writer's World, a collection of her travel writing and reportage from over five decades, was published in 2003. Hav, her novel, was published in a new and expanded form in 2006.