Interview: Legendary History Writer John Julius Norwich

lord norwich at home londonHeritage Key has just returned from a blustery, biting morning trip to legendary writer John Julius Norwich‘s house, beside the pretty canals of London’s Little Venice. It was a great interview, and one which we’ll be following up with articles, videos and photos right here – see below for tips on how to keep up with our content!

A brisk wind whips up dervishes of crooked caramel and crimson leaves; whistling cold signals the city’s slide from autumn to winter. Yet a firm handshake and sincere smile minutes later leaves HK as warm as ever, as we enter Lord Norwich’s magnolia mini-mansion, set back from the busy city streets.

Lord Norwich effervesces with the warmth, dignity and charm of a man who has become one of Britain’s best-loved history and travel authors over a career spanning 45 years. Replete with booming, elegant voice and pin-sharp attire, he’s the epitome of British chic; a stereotypically suave gentleman traveler. Once a foreign serviceman stationed in Beirut and Belgrade, Lord Norwich sacked his state employment to pursue a career in print, on air and on screen – where he remains one of the nation’s favourite historical storytellers.

Tales, Trips and Tips

Once we’ve tackled light issues in the Lord’s front room – and noise coming from the building of an underground music studio nextdoor, at the house of U2’s Adam Clayton – Heritage Key is treated to fascinating facts, insightful anecdotes and concise opinions on a myriad issues facing world heritage today and beyond. TheLord bristles with energy as he tells us the story of his latest printed offering, The Great Cities in History, and eagerly recalls the past, present and future of his favourite place, Venice.Lord Norwich also explains one of the most treasured artefacts in his home, and answers the questions you submitted last week.

Lord Norwich brims with facts, stories, anecdotes and opinions from across the ancient and medieval world

The Lord also gives some great tips on how to have a modern adventure in an age of sanitised package tours and whistlestop visits. We also get the sense Lord Norwich takes travel very much in his stride when he nonchalantly mentions he is heading off to Iran tomorrow with a small group of friends to see Tehran, Isfahan and more: a trip rarely earmarked by so-called intrepid explorers the world over, much less a British octogenerian!

We’ve hardly noticed we’ve been chatting for ages when our time is up, and we pack up to bid Lord Norwich a very fond goodbye. Another firm handshake, another knowing smile. We’ve enjoyed our time with one of Britain’s best history wordsmiths immensely – so much so we almost forget we’ve been flung straight back into the dreary grey skies of London. Almost. I personally found Lord Norwich’s views on travel very inspiring, and completely agree that the best way to experience a city is simply to walk alone and get lost in its streets. It was definitely something I’d recommend of Venice, and advice I could have done with turning to to get the most from my recent trip to Luxor. I also loved his story about the legend of Pope Joan, and the novel and hilarious way future cardinals would combat a female papacy – more details on that coming soon.

Keep Updated!

There’s so much more to come from our encounter with Lord Norwich, and there are lots of ways you can keep updated on the videos, articles and photos. Check for comments on this very blog, where I’ll be announcing further material, follow us on Twitter and/or become a fan on Facebook, where we’ll let you know the latest news, views and content from the site – and subscribe to Heritage Key email updates to get the best from our great range of content – including other ArchaeoVideos from across the historical world: Today’s latest from Egypt sees Dr Alan Zivie go face-to-face with some of Saqqara’s most amazing treasures!