Remembering John Julius Norwich

Remembering John Julius Norwich

John Julius Norwich (1929-2018) remembered by his editor Becky Hardie, Deputy Publishing Director at Chatto & Windus

John Julius Norwich was one of the sweetest, funniest and most generous authors I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. He was wonderful company, delightfully curious, hugely knowledgeable and exceptionally kind. His mother insisted on kindness, and she did an exemplary job. Working on the letters his mother sent to him, which Chatto & Windus published as Darling Monster, was a rare delight and a privilege as it showed quite a different side to the historian/broadcaster/raconteur/cultural figure. I will miss our lunches; we were just about to have another. I wish I’d had just one more lunch with the bundle of sparky intelligence and joy that was John Julius.  

John Julius Norwich, the only son of Diana and Duff Cooper, was born in 1929. After National Service, he took a degree in French and Russian at New College, Oxford. In 1952 he joined the Foreign Service, serving at the embassies in Belgrade and Beirut and with the British Delegation to the Disarmament Conference at Geneva. He was the author of histories of Norman Sicily, the Republic of Venice, the Byzantine Empire, the Mediterranean, the popes, Sicily and France; he edited his father’s diaries and his mother’s letters and also wrote a memoir, Trying to Please. He has also written on architecture, music and the history plays of Shakespeare, has presented many historical documentaries on BBC Television and was a regular lecturer on Venice and other subjects. His friends looked forward every December to receiving his Christmas Cracker, a self-published collection of quotes and curiosities from the preceding year.

Lord Norwich was the chairman of the Venice in Peril Fund, co-chairman of the World Monuments Fund and a former member of the Executive Committee of the National Trust. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Geographical Society and the Society of Antiquaries, and a Commendatore of the Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana. He was made a CVO in 1993.

Remembering John Julius Norwich

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more