John Julius Cooper

John Julius Cooper

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

Norwich is the son 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 College, Toronto, Ontario, 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 (1978–1982) 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 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

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. 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 Huston, the estranged wife of the American film director John Huston.[3]


  • Mount Athos (jointly with Reresby Sitwell) London : Hutchinson, 1966
  • The Normans in the South Harlow : Longman,1967
  • Sahara London : Longmans, 1968
  • The kingdom in the sun Harlow : Longman,1970
  • A History of Venice. Allen Lane, 1981 ISBN 0-679-72197-5
  • The Architecture of Southern England. London : Macmillan, 1985 ISBN 978-0-333-22037-5
  • Fifty Years of Glyndebourne London : Cape, 1985 ISBN 0-224-02310-1
  • A Taste for Travel London : Macmillan, 1985 ISBN 0-333-38434-2
  • Byzantium: 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 0-09-467550-3
  • 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 0-14-015212-1
  • 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 0-385-41028-X
  • 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). Wimborne Minster, Dorset : Dovecote Press, 2008 ISBN 978-1-904349-58-7
  • Christmas Crackers, anecdotes, trivia and witticisms collected from history and literature
  • More Christmas Crackers
  • The Big Bang : Christmas Crackers , 2000-2009. The Dovecote Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-904349-84-6
  • Paradise of Cities, Venice and Its Nineteenth-century Visitors, Viking/Penguin, 2003. ISBN 0-670-89401-X
  • The Great Cities in History, editor, Thames and Hudson, 2009. ISBN 978-0-500-25154-6



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

External links

  • Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by
  • Penguin books short biography
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Alfred Duff Cooper
Viscount Norwich