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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 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.
Personal life and death
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.
On the Battlements of a Tower Argent a Bull passant Sable armed and unguled Or
Or three Lions rampant Gules on a Chief Azure a Portcullis chained between two Fleurs-de-lis of the first
On either side a Unicorn Argent gorged with a Collar with Chain reflexed over the back Or pendent from the collar of the dexter a Portcullis chained and from that of the sinister a Fleur-de-lys both Gold
Venice: a Traveller's Companion (an anthology compiled by Lord Norwich), Constable, 1990, ISBN0-09-467550-3
Oxford Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Art (editor) Oxford, 1990
The Normans in the South and The Kingdom in the Sun, on Norman Sicily, later republished as The Normans in Sicily, 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) ISBN0-14-015212-1