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John Julius Cooper, 2nd Viscount Norwich, (15 September 1929 - 1 June 2018), known as John Julius Norwich, was an English popular historian, travel writer, and television personality.
Norwich was born at the Alfred House Nursing Home on Portland Place in Marylebone, London, on 15 September 1929. He was the son of Conservative politician and diplomat Duff Cooper, later Viscount Norwich, and of Lady Diana Manners, a celebrated beauty and society figure. He was given the name "Julius" in part because he was born by caesarean section. Such was his mother's fame as an actress and beauty that the birth attracted a crowd outside the nursing home and hundreds of letters of congratulations. Through his father, he was descended from King William IV and his mistress Dorothea Jordan.
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), the Byzantine Empire (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.
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.
His final Christmas Cracker was the 49th. It was put together during the early part of 2018 and he corrected the final proofs from his hospital bed before he died on 1 June 2018.
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, ISBN978-0-09-467550-6
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) ISBN978-0-14-015212-8