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Mummy pulls some strings again


Satisfying my wanderlust
John Julius Norwich Writer
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I was still at Oxford. Well, I married only when I left Oxford, but I left Oxford in the, well, I'd only just, I left Oxford in June '52 and I married Anne in August, so it's only two months, and Artemis was born the following April, so that had all happened quite fast. And then... then what was going to happen was that I had... I was hoping to join the Foreign Office because what I really wanted was to travel. More than anything else, I wanted to travel. I wanted to see the world. Well, in those days, the early 50s, there wasn't civil aviation like there is now. I mean, now you can fly anywhere whenever you want. In those days, people didn't travel much, people still travelled basically by train, you know, and if you went on a holiday to Athens it was 5 days each way, there was 10 days gone before you even started to enjoy yourself in Greece, so people really travelled very little.  And I wanted to travel and I decided that the two best ways of travelling were either to be a member of the Foreign Service or to be a foreign correspondent. So I decided it's either diplomacy or journalism for me and I put my name down for the Foreign Service and decided that if I got in, which was extremely unlikely because they took in a very, very small proportion of the number of people who applied, if I got in I would accept it. If I didn't, I would go and talk to the Times or the Daily Telegraph or somebody and see what I could do, or perhaps the BBC, see what I could do in that field. Anyway, to my enormous surprise, I got in to the Foreign Office by the skin of my teeth. I was one of 17, I remember, who got in that year and I started, I think, probably in about September or October, by now already married.

John Julius Norwich (1929-2018) was an English popular historian, travel writer and television personality. He was educated at Upper Canada College, Toronto, at Eton, at the University of Strasbourg and on the lower deck of the Royal Navy before taking a degree in French and Russian at New College, Oxford. He then spent twelve years in H.M. Foreign Service, with posts at the Embassies in Belgrade and Beirut and at the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. In 1964 he resigned to become a writer. He is the author of histories of Norman Sicily, the Republic of Venice, the Byzantine Empire and, most recently, 'The Popes: A History'. He also wrote on architecture, music and the history plays of Shakespeare, and presented some thirty historical documentaries on BBC Television.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: marriage, travel, Foreign Service, diplomacy, journalism

Duration: 2 minutes, 19 seconds

Date story recorded: 2017

Date story went live: 03 October 2018