John Julius Norwich

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
John Julius Cooper,
2nd Viscount Norwich

Born (1929-09-15) September 15, 1929 (age 87)
Alma mater
Occupation Historian, travel writer and television personality

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


Early life[edit]

Norwich is the son of the Conservative politician and diplomat Duff Cooper and of Lady Diana Manners, a celebrated beauty and society figure.[2] Through his father, he is descended from King William IV and his mistress Dorothea Jordan.

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.


Joining the British Foreign Service after Oxford, John Julius Cooper served in Yugoslavia and Lebanon and as a member of British delegation to the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. On his father's death in 1954, he inherited the title of Viscount Norwich, created for Duff Cooper in 1952, which made him a member of the House of Lords.

In 1964, Viscount Norwich left the diplomatic service to become a writer. Apart from his many books (see list), 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. Viscount Norwich has often contributed to Cornucopia, a magazine devoted to the history and culture of Turkey.

Viscount Norwich has 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.

Norwich has also worked for various charitable projects. He is the former chairman of the Venice in Peril Fund,[3] honorary chairman of the World Monuments Fund, and a Vice-President of the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies.[4] 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 is also a patron of SHARE Community, which provides vocational training to disabled people.

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 second-hand bookstores.

Christmas Crackers are compiled from whatever attracts 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 it was 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". [5][6]


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. After their divorce, Lord Norwich married his second wife, the Hon. Mary (Makins) Philipps, daughter of the 1st Baron Sherfield GCB GCMG.

Viscount Norwich is 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.[7]

Honours and styles of address[edit]


Viscount Norwich was appointed to the Royal Victorian Order as a Commander[8] 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
  • 1952-1954: The Honourable John Julius Cooper
  • 1954-1992: The Right Honourable The Viscount Norwich
  • 1992-: The Right Honourable The Viscount Norwich CVO





  • 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