John Julius Norwich was born in the United Kingdom on September 15, 1929. He served in the Royal Navy before receiving a degree in French and Russian at New College, Oxford. After graduation, he joined the H. M. Foreign Service and served in Belgrade, Beirut, and as a member of British delegation to the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. In 1954, he inherited the title of Viscount Norwich. In 1964, he resigned from the Foreign Service to become a writer.
He was a historian, travel writer, and television personality. His books included The Normans in the South, A History of Venice, The Italian World, Venice: A Traveller's Companion, 50 Years of Glyndebourne: An Illustrated History, A Short History of Byzantium, Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy, Sicily: An Island at the Crossroads of History, and A History of France. He and H. C. Robbins Landon wrote Five Centuries of Music in Venice.
Norwich was the host of the BBC radio panel game My Word! from 1978 to 1982. He wrote and presented more than 30 television documentaries including Maestro, The Fall of Constantinople, Napoleon's Hundred Days, Cortés and Montezuma, Maximilian of Mexico, The Knights of Malta, The Treasure Houses of Britain, and The Death of the Prince Imperial in the Zulu War. In 1993, he was appointed CVO for having curated an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum to mark the 40th anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne. In 2015, he was awarded the Biographers' Club award for his lifetime service to biography. He died on June 1, 2018 at the age of 88.