John Julius Norwich  

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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli
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The Birth of Venus (detail), a 1486 painting by Sandro Botticelli
John Julius Cooper, 2nd Viscount Norwich CVO (born 15 September 1929) is an English historian, travel writer and television personality known as John Julius Norwich.

Norwich is the only child of the Conservative politician and diplomat Duff Cooper, a British ambassador to France who in 1952 was created Viscount Norwich, and of Lady Diana Cooper, a celebrated beauty and society figure. Through his father, he has royal blood, being a descendent of King William IV and a mistress. He was educated at Upper Canada College, Toronto, at Eton College, and at the University of Strasbourg. He served in the Royal Navy before taking a degree in French and Russian at New College, Oxford. He then joined the British Foreign Service, serving in Yugoslavia and Lebanon, and as a member of British delegation to the Disarmament Conference in Geneva.

In 1964 Norwich left government service to become a writer. His best-known works include two books on Norman Sicily, The Normans in the South and The Kingdom in the Sun (later republished in one volume as The Normans in Sicily); Mount Athos (with Reresby Sitwell); Sahara; A History of Venice; The Architecture of Southern England; Fifty Years of Glyndebourne; and A Taste for Travel.

Norwich's recent works include Byzantium: The Early Centuries, Byzantium: The Apogee and Byzantium: The Decline and Fall; A Short History of Byzantium; a work of humour, The Twelve Days of Christmas; and Shakespeare's Kings; and Venice: A Traveller's Companion. He has 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.

Norwich has worked extensively in radio and television. He was host of the popular BBC radio panel game My Word! for four years. 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 and The Death of the Prince Imperial in the Zulu War.

Norwich has also worked for various charitable projects. He is Chairman of the Venice in Peril Fund, Co-Chairman of the World Monuments Fund, and a Vice-President of the National Association of Decorative and Fine Art Societies. For many years he was a member of the Executive Committee of the National Trust, and also served on the Board of the English National Opera.

Family

Norwich married, as his first wife, Anne Frances May Clifford, daughter of the Hon. Sir Bede Edmund Hugh Clifford; they had one daughter, Artemis Cooper, a historian, and a son, Jason Charles Duff Bede Cooper. After their divorce, Lord Norwich married, as his second wife, the Hon. Mary (Makins) Philipps, daughter of the 1st Baron Sherfield, GCB, GCMG.

Norwich also is the father of Allegra Huston, offspring of his affair with Enrica Soma Huston, the estranged wife of the American film director John Huston.

Partial bibliography

  • A History of Venice, John Julius Norwich, Publ. Allen lane (1981) ISBN 0-679-72197-5
  • Byzantium: The Early Centuries, v. 1, John Julius Norwich, Publ. Viking (1988) ISBN 0-670-80251-4
  • Byzantium: The Apogee, vol. 2, John Julius Norwich, Publ. Alfred A. Knopf (1992) ISBN 0-394-53779-3
  • Byzantium: The Decline and Fall, v. 3, John Julius Norwich, Publ. Viking (1995) ISBN 0-670-82377-5
  • A Short History of Byzantium, John Julius Norwich, Publ. Alfred A Knopf (1997) ISBN 0-679-45088-2
  • Shakespeare's Kings: The Great Plays and the History of England in the Middle Ages: 1337-1485 (2000) ISBN 0-684-81434-X
  • The Middle Sea: A History of the Mediterranean, Doubleday (2006) ISBN 0-385-51023-3





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