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Writer, broadcaster and historian John Julius Norwich dies aged 88

By: stagedoorscribbler - June 4, 2018

John Julius Norwich. Photograph by Hattie Miles

We were sorry to hear of the death at the age of 88 of writer, broadcaster and historian John Julius Norwich. A sometime speaker on the Clive Conway Productions circuit, he was good company, extremely knowledgable and never less than fascinating. 

Although he was a passionate expert on architecture, literature and music his particular love was for Venice which he fought for decades to preserve and protect. Indeed he had been chairman of  the Venice in Peril Fund since 1970 and was also company chairman of the World Monuments Fund. Best known to the public through his many books and radio and Tv programmes, John Julius was originally destined for a career in the Foreign Office. The son of Tory MP Duff Cooper and the socialite Lady Diana Cooper, he was extraordinarily well-connected. His maternal grandfather was the 8th Duke of Rutland, his father, who would eventually become Viscount Norwich (John Julius would inherit the title in the 1950s), was a close friend and confidante of Winston Churchill and became the British ambassador to Paris. 

On top of this John Julius counted Lord Beaverbrook and the Aga Khan among his godparents. However Eton, Oxford and the cream of society were not enough to prepare him for life as a diplomat and in 1964 he resigned from the Foreign Office and determined to  make his living as a writer. 

His easy, clubbable manner and impressive knowledge led to a secondary career as a presenter of historical Tv documentaries on the BBC.