The Viscount Norwich
|Born||John Julius Cooper|
15 September 1929
|Died||1 June 2018(aged 88)|
|Pen name||John Julius Norwich|
|Children||3, including Artemis Cooper and Allegra Huston|
|Member of the House of Lords|
1 January 1954 – 11 November 1999
|Preceded by||The 1st Viscount Norwich|
|Succeeded by||House of Lords Act 1999|
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. Through his father, he was 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 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. This gave him a right to sit in the House of Lords, though he lost this right with the House of Lords Act 1999.
In 1964, 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). 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. Norwich often contributed to Cornucopia, a magazine devoted to the history and culture of Turkey.
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 wrote 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, Treasure Houses of Britain, and The Death of the Prince Imperial in the Zulu War.
Norwich also worked for various charitable projects. He was the chairman of the Venice in Peril Fund, honorary chairman of the World Monuments Fund, and a Vice-President of the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies. 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. Norwich was also a patron of SHARE Community, which provides vocational training to disabled people.
Norwich began to compile 24-page anthologies of notable sayings and texts for friends in 1970, later producing around 2,000 copies a year and expanding to the United States in the mid-1980s. Several omnibus anthologies incorporating texts from a number of the annual editions have been published; and certain single issues fetch high prices in secondhand bookstores.
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 republication of Lady Chatterley's Lover.
Norwich's first wife was Anne Frances May Clifford, daughter of the Hon. Sir Bede 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, Norwich married his second wife, the Hon. Mary (Makins) Philipps, daughter of The 1st Baron Sherfield.
Norwich lived for much of his life in a large detached Victorian house in Warwick Avenue, in the heart of Little Venice, Maida Vale (London), very close to Regent's Canal. Norwich died aged 88 on 1 June 2018.
Norwich was appointed to the Royal Victorian Order as a Commander 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.
|Ancestors of John Julius Norwich|
|Peerage of the United Kingdom|
Alfred Duff Cooper
| Viscount Norwich