John Julius Norwich

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Right Honourable
The Viscount Norwich
Viscount Norwich 2016.jpg
Norwich in 2016
Member of the House of Lords
In office
1 January 1954 – 11 November 1999
as a hereditary peer
Preceded by Duff Cooper, 1st Viscount Norwich
Succeeded by House of Lords Act 1999
Personal details
Born (1929-09-15)15 September 1929
Died 1 June 2018(2018-06-01) (aged 88)
Spouse(s) Anne Clifford (divorced)
Hon. Mary Makins Philipps
Children 3, including Artemis Cooper and Allegra Huston
Parents Duff Cooper
Lady Diana Manners
Alma mater
Occupation Historian, travel writer, television personality

John Julius Cooper, 2nd Viscount Norwich, CVO (15 September 1929 – 1 June 2018),[1] known as John Julius Norwich, was an English popular historian,[2] travel writer and television personality.[3]


Norwich was the son of Conservative politician and diplomat Duff Cooper, later Viscount Norwich, and of Lady Diana Manners, a celebrated beauty and society figure.[4] Through his father, he was descended from King William IV and his mistress Dorothea Jordan.[citation needed]

He was educated at Upper Canada College, Toronto, Canada (as a wartime evacuee), Eton, and the University of Strasbourg. He served in the Royal Navy before taking a degree in French and Russian at New College, Oxford.[5]


Joining the British Foreign Service after Oxford, John Julius Cooper served in Yugoslavia and Lebanon and as a member of the British delegation to the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. On his father's death in 1954, he inherited the title of Viscount Norwich, created for his father, Duff Cooper, in 1952.[6] This gave him a right to sit in the House of Lords, though he lost this right with the House of Lords Act 1999.[7]

In 1964, Viscount Norwich left the diplomatic service to become a writer. His subsequent books included histories of Sicily under the Normans (1967, 1970), Venice (1977, 1981), Byzantium (1988, 1992, 1995), the Mediterranean (2006), and the Papacy (2011), amongst others (see list below).[8] He also served as editor of series such as Great Architecture of the World, The Italian World, The New Shell Guides to Great Britain, The Oxford Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Art and the Duff Cooper Diaries.[9] Viscount Norwich has often contributed to Cornucopia, a magazine devoted to the history and culture of Turkey.[citation needed]

Viscount Norwich worked extensively in radio and television. He was host of the BBC radio panel game My Word! for four years (1978–82) and also a regional contestant on Round Britain Quiz. He has written and presented some 30 television documentaries, including The Fall of Constantinople, Napoleon's Hundred Days, Cortés and Montezuma, The Antiquities of Turkey, The Gates of Asia, Maximilian of Mexico, Toussaint l'Ouverture of Haiti, The Knights of Malta, The Treasure Houses of Britain, and The Death of the Prince Imperial in the Zulu War.[10]

Norwich also worked for various charitable projects. He was the chairman of the Venice in Peril Fund,[11] honorary chairman of the World Monuments Fund, and a Vice-President of the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies.[12] For many years he was a member of the Executive Committee of the National Trust, and also served on the Board of English National Opera. Viscount Norwich was also a patron of SHARE Community, which provides vocational training to disabled people.[13][14]

Christmas Crackers[edit]

Viscount Norwich began to compile 24-page anthologies for friends in 1970, later producing around 2,000 copies a year and expanding to the United States in the mid-1980s. Several anthologies have been published and certain single issues fetch high prices in secondhand bookstores.[citation needed]

Christmas Crackers were compiled from whatever attracted Norwich: letters and diaries and gravestones and poems, boastful Who's Who entries, indexes from biographies, word games such as palindromes, holorhymes and mnemonics, occasionally in untranslated Greek, French, Latin, German or whatever language they were sourced from, as well as such oddities as a review from the American outdoors magazine Field and Stream concerning the re-publication of Lady Chatterley's Lover.[15][16]

Personal life and death[edit]

Viscount Norwich's first wife was Anne Frances May Clifford, daughter of the Hon. Sir Bede Edmund Hugh Clifford; they had one daughter, the Hon. Artemis Cooper, a historian, and a son, the Hon. Jason Charles Duff Bede Cooper, an architect.[citation needed] After their divorce, Lord Norwich married his second wife, the Hon. Mary (Makins) Philipps, daughter of the Roger Makins, 1st Baron Sherfield.[citation needed]

Viscount Norwich was also the father of Allegra Huston, born of his affair with the American ballet dancer Enrica Soma while she was married to the American film director John Huston.[17]

Norwich lived for much of his life, or was based in (when not overseas etc), a large detached Victorian house in Warwick Avenue, in the heart of Little Venice, Maida Vale (London), very close to the Regent's Canal.[18] Viscount Norwich died age 88 on June 1, 2018.[3]

Honours and styles of address[edit]


Viscount Norwich was appointed to the Royal Victorian Order as a Commander[19] in 1992 by the Queen after curating a Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition entitled Sovereign, which marked the 40th anniversary of the Queen's accession.

Styles of address[edit]

  • 1929–1952: Mr John Julius Cooper[20]
  • 1952–1954: The Honourable John Julius Cooper[21]
  • 1954–1993: The Right Honourable The Viscount Norwich[22]
  • 1993–2018: The Right Honourable The Viscount Norwich CVO (Commander of the Royal Victorian Order)[23]




  1. ^ John Julius Norwich, writer and television personality – obituary
  2. ^ "John Julius Norwich:'Deep down, I'm shallow. I really am'", The Telegraph, 04 Jun 2008
  3. ^ a b "John Julius Norwich obituary: writer and broadcaster keen to share his many passions". The Guardian. 1 June 2018. Retrieved 19 June 2018. 
  4. ^ Yardley, Jonathan. "John Julius Norwich's memoir, "Trying to Please," reviewed by Jonathan Yardley", The Washington Post, 5 September 2010
  5. ^ "John Julius Norwich :: Introduction". Retrieved 2018-03-10. 
  6. ^ "Whitehall, July 8, 1952". London Gazette. London. 8 July 1952. p. 3699.
  7. ^ "Lords reform". the Guardian. 2000-01-20. Retrieved 2018-03-10. 
  8. ^ "John Julius Norwich :: Books Written". Retrieved 2018-03-10. 
  9. ^ "John Julius Norwich :: Books Edited". Retrieved 2018-03-10. 
  10. ^ "John Julius Norwich :: Television". Retrieved 2018-03-10. 
  11. ^ "Venice in Peril — Trustees". Retrieved 20 December 2015. 
  12. ^ "Welcome to NADFAS". Retrieved 20 December 2015. 
  13. ^ "Board of Trustees, Vice Presidents and Patrons | Share Community". Retrieved 2018-03-10. 
  14. ^ "Mission, vision, and values | Share Community". Retrieved 2018-03-10. 
  15. ^ "Another cracker from John Julius Norwich". 28 November 2013. 
  16. ^ BLUME, MARY (3 December 1986). "Some Literary Feats for Your Yule Stockings" – via LA Times. 
  17. ^ "A Daughter's Life with Daddy Issues". The New York Times. 2 April 2009. Retrieved 20 December 2015. 
  18. ^ Parker, Olivia (2014-03-25). "My perfect weekend: John Julius Norwich, historian and writer". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-06-13. 
  19. ^ "Page 2394". The Peerage. Retrieved 15 April 2016. 
  20. ^ "John Julius Norwich". The Times. June 1, 2018. Retrieved 2018-08-09. 
  21. ^ "John Julius Norwich: Aristocrat historian and broadcaster whose passions were inspired by remarkable parents". The Independent. June 2, 2018. Retrieved 2018-08-09. 
  22. ^ "John Julius Norwich obituary". The Guardian. June 1, 2018. Retrieved 2018-08-09. 
  23. ^ "John Julius Cooper, 2nd Viscount Norwich". The Peerage. Retrieved 2018-08-09. 


  • Leaders & Legends: John Julius Norwich (In: Old Times; Winter/Spring, 2008)

External links[edit]

Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Alfred Duff Cooper
Viscount Norwich
Succeeded by
Jason Cooper