John Julius Norwich 1929–2018
Writer, historian and broadcaster John Julius Norwich has died, aged 88. The son of Conservative MP Duff Cooper and Lady Diana Cooper, Norwich studied French and Russian at New College, Oxford, before embarking on a career at the Foreign Office in 1952.
His passion for history was first ignited during a two-week trip to Sicily in 1961: three years later Norwich left the Foreign Office to publish his first book, Mount Athos, written with Reresby Sitwell. Twenty-four books followed over the next 54 years, including The Popes: A History and the two-volume A History of Venice. Norwich was interviewed about his final work, France: A History: From Gaul to de Gaulle (John Murray, 2018), in the April 2018 issue of BBC History Magazine.
Norwich was also a familiar face on television, writing and presenting 30 historical documentaries for the BBC on subjects ranging from the fall of Constantinople to the music of Venice, a city he visited more than 200 times.
Michael Scott, professor of classics and ancient history at the University of Warwick, says: “I first witnessed JJN’s amazing ability to convey the essence of a world and an era when I heard him lecture about 1,100 years of Byzantium in less than an hour. I was not only struck by his ability to communicate with wide audiences through radio, TV, in print or in person, but the ways in which his own personal passions, coupled with his immense and varied experience of life, informed his work and the insights he offered. His voice will be much missed.”