John Julius Nor­wich 1929–2018

BBC History Magazine - - History Now / News -

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.”

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