Sunday, November 29, 2009

john julius norwich-A Christmas Cracker

Few Americans are aware of the erudite John Julius Norwich, 2ND Lord Norwich, only child of the British diplomat, notorious philanderer and war hero Duff Cooper and his wife, Lady Diana Cooper, the most desired hostess in between the wars England.

John has lived a fabled life, rich from exposure to most everyone of importance in the 20Th century, he's a well educated and enthusiastic raconteur, brought up since birth to provide "good value for money". Self described as "shallow", he is a most charming man.

Following Oxford he followed his father's career in the foreign service. Retired after a dozen years and took to writing, mostly histories, and editing. Later had an active television career, mostly in documentaries and is a well known speaker and preservationist in the UK.

For the past 40 years he has kept a journal of favorite little poems, odd definitions, strange anecdotes and curious correspondence. Since 1980, instead of sending Christmas cards, John has printed selections of his findings and mailed them to anxiously awaiting friends. Every 10 years they are collected and printed by Penguin.

My favorite are these two entries.

From Hoare's "Short Italian Dictionary, Cambridge, 1964
Baffona: f: Woman with not unpleasing moustache.

and this description of the Opera Carmen:(click photo to enlarge)



Dumbwit Tellher said...

Mr. Norwich' life sounds like a good read in iteself. I loved the illustration alone! You are so clever Toad. Happy Sunday to you ~

Suburban Princess said...

Sounds like he was blogging long before there were blogs!

ADG said...

Toad...I got on a "Duff Cooper Tear" last year and read a bunch of stuff. I think you'd like....The Duff Cooper Diaries. The diaries almost didn't get printed. Rupert Hart-Davies...Beerbohm scholar-publisher and nephew of Duff Cooper almost had them destroyed. Read them and you'll learn why!

Toad said...

The illustrations are by Quentin Blake, who illustrated many of the Roald Dahl books. In 1999 he was named the first Children's Laureate.

Toad said...

ADG: I found the easiest way for me to connectt he dots of who's who was via a biography of Nancy Lancaster. Nancy Lancaster, her life, her world, her art by Robert Becker.

hers is a fascinating biography.

Anonymous said...

We have signed copies of John's latest book: The Popes: A History @