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John Julius Cooper, 2nd Viscount Norwich CVO (born 15 September, 1929) — known as John Julius Norwich — is an Englishmarker historian, travel writer and television personality.


Early life

Norwich is the only child of the Conservative politician and diplomat Duff Cooper and of Lady Diana Cooper, 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 Collegemarker, Torontomarker, Canadamarker (as a wartime evacuee), at Eton Collegemarker, and at the University of Strasbourg. He served in the Royal Navy before taking a degree in French and Russian at New College, Oxfordmarker.


Joining the British Foreign Service after Oxford, John Julius Cooper served in Yugoslavia and Lebanonmarker, and as a member of British delegation to the Disarmament Conference in Genevamarker. At 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 British House of Lordsmarker.

In 1964, 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. Norwich has often contributed to Cornucopia, a magazine devoted to the history and culture of Turkey.

Norwich has worked extensively in radio and television. He was host of the BBC radio panel game My Word! for four years (1978-1982) 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 Turkeymarker, The Gates of Asia, Maximilian of Mexico, Toussaint l'Ouverture of Haitimarker, 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, 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.

Honours and accolades

Lord Norwich was appointed CVO in 1992 after acting as curator of a Victoria and Albert Museummarker exhibition entitled 'Sovereign', which marked the 40th anniversary of the accession of H. M. The Queen.


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


  • Mount Athos (jointly with Reresby Sitwell) London: Hutchinson, 1966
  • The Normans in the South and The Kingdom in the Sun, on Norman Sicily, later republished as The Normans in Sicily London: Penguin, 1992 (The Normans in the south,1016-1130; originally published:- Harlow:Longman,1967 -- The kingdom in the sun, 1130-1194; originally published:- Harlow:Longman,1970) ISBN 0140152121
  • Sahara London: Longmans, 1968
  • A History of Venicemarker. Allen Lane, 1981 ISBN 0-679-72197-5
  • The Architecture of Southern England. London: Macmillan, 1985 ISBN 978-0333-220-375
  • Fifty Years of Glyndebournemarker London: Cape, 1985 ISBN 0224023101
  • A Taste for Travel London: Macmillan, 1985 ISBN 0333384342
  • Byzantium; v. 1: The Early Centuries. Viking, 1988 ISBN 0-670-80251-4
  • Venice: a Traveller's Companion (an anthology compiled by Lord Norwich) London: Constable, 1990 ISBN 0094675503
  • Byzantium; v. 2: The Apogee. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992 ISBN 0-394-53779-3
  • Byzantium; v. 3: The Decline and Fall. Viking, 1995 ISBN 0-670-82377-5
  • A Short History of Byzantium. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997 ISBN 0-679-45088-2
  • The Twelve Days of Christmas, illustrated by Quentin Blake. London : Doubleday, 1998 (spoof of the old favourite carol, "The Twelve Days of Christmas") ISBN 038541028X
  • Shakespeare's Kings: the Great Plays and the History of England in the Middle Ages: 1337-1485. New York: Scribner, 2000 ISBN 0-684-81434-X
  • The Middle Sea: a History of the Mediterranean. New York: Doubleday, 2006 ISBN 0-385-51023-3
  • Trying to Please, (autobiography). Dovecote Press, 2008
  • Christmas Crackers
  • More Christmas Crackers


  1. Lady Diana herself had revealed that although she was brought up as a daughter of the Duke of Rutland, she was actually fathered by Harry Cust, a Lincolnshire landowner and MP. Cust is also said to have slept with Margaret Thatcher's grandmother, one of his servants. (Khan, Urmee, "Allegra Huston Speaks of the Shock at Discovering She was the Love Child of a Lord", The Daily Telegraph [ ], 6 April 2009.)
  3. A Daughter's Life with Daddy Issues, Janet Maslin, The New York Times, April 1, 2009


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

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