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Norwich is the son of the Conservative politician and diplomat Duff Cooper and of Lady Diana Cooper, a celebrated beauty and society figure. Through his father, he is descended from King William IV and his mistress Dorothea Jordan.
He was educated at Upper Canada College, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (as a wartime evacuee), Eton, and the University of Strasbourg. He served in the Royal Navy before taking a degree in French and Russian at New College, Oxford.
Joining the British Foreign Service after Oxford, John Julius Cooper served in Yugoslavia and Lebanon and as a member of British delegation to the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. On his father's death in 1954, he inherited the title of Viscount Norwich, created for Duff Cooper in 1952, which made him a member of the House of Lords.
In 1964, Viscount Norwich left the diplomatic service to become a writer. Apart from his many books (see list), he has 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. Viscount Norwich has often contributed to Cornucopia, a magazine devoted to the history and culture of Turkey.
Viscount Norwich has worked extensively in radio and television. He was host of the BBC radio panel game My Word! for four years (1978–1982) and also a regional contestant on Round Britain Quiz. He has written and presented some 30 television documentaries, including The Fall of Constantinople, Napoleon's Hundred Days, Cortés and Montezuma, The Antiquities of Turkey, The Gates of Asia, Maximilian of Mexico, Toussaint l'Ouverture of Haiti, The Knights of Malta, The Treasure Houses of Britain, and The Death of the Prince Imperial in the Zulu War.
Norwich has also worked for various charitable projects. He is the former 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. Viscount Norwich is also a patron of SHARE Community, which provides vocational training to disabled people.
Viscount Norwich was appointed to the Royal Victorian Order in 1992 by the Queen after curating a Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition entitled Sovereign, which marked the 40th anniversary of the Queen's accession.
Viscount Norwich married, as his first wife, Anne Frances May Clifford, daughter of the Hon. Sir Bede Edmund Hugh Clifford; they had one daughter, Artemis Cooper, a historian; and a son, Jason Charles Duff Bede Cooper, an architect. After their divorce, Lord Norwich married, as his second wife, the Hon. Mary (Makins) Philipps, daughter of the 1st Baron Sherfield, GCB, GCMG.
|Peerage of the United Kingdom|
Alfred Duff Cooper