John Julius Norwich

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John Julius Cooper,
2nd Viscount Norwich

Born (1929-09-15) September 15, 1929 (age 86)
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 historian, 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. 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,[1] honorary chairman of the World Monuments Fund, and a Vice-President of the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies.[2] 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.

Honours and accolades[edit]

Viscount Norwich was appointed to the Royal Victorian Order 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.


Viscount 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, an architect. After their divorce, Lord Norwich married, as 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, the offspring of his affair with Enrica Soma, while she was married to the American film director John Huston.[3]



Use of Wikipedia[edit]

In a letter published in the The Times newspaper, on 14 December 2015, Norwich said of Wikipedia:

As a writer of history I resort to it at least a dozen times a day. I could never have written my last two books without it, and I have never caught it out yet, which is more than I can say of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Its range is astonishing: it is almost impossible to find a person, place or subject that it has left uncovered .... a work of reference as useful as any in existence..."[4]


  1. ^ "Venice in Peril — Trustees". Retrieved 20 December 2015. 
  2. ^ "Welcome to NADFAS". Retrieved 20 December 2015. 
  3. ^ "A Daughter’s Life with Daddy Issues". The New York Times. 2 April 2009. Retrieved 20 December 2015. 
  4. ^ "The obstacles to reforming our prisons". The Times. Retrieved 20 December 2015. (subscription required (help)). 


  • 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