Venice in Peril

Venice in Peril Lecture Series

Love from Venice:
A Golden Summer on the Grand Canal

Writer Juliet Nicolson in Conversation with authors Gill Johnson and Rory Ross

Monday 14 October 2024

Lecture followed by Book Signing - 6.30-8pm

Tickets £25 to include drinks reception

The Society of Antiquaries
Burlington House
London W1J 0BE


In the summer of 1957, rebelling against her conventional parents and anxious to impress a new admirer who had moved to Paris, 25-year-old Gill Johnson took up a post as English teacher to the children of the Brandolinis, one of Venice’s oldest aristocratic families. During a halcyon year living in the dazzling Brandolini palazzo, Gill swam in the Lido and acquired a lifelong passion for the city.

Her book, Love from Venice, based on the letters she wrote to her admirer, shimmer with the vivid memories that she has shared with her son Rory Ross, including the characters she met in Venice such as Nancy Mitford, Oliver Messel, Aristotle Onassis and the terrifying family nanny, Fraulein Rasch. Part travelogue, part personal recollection, it affectionately captures an all but forgotten world of Venice in the ‘50s. 

After the excitement surrounding the publication of Love from Venice this spring, Venice in Peril is delighted to be hosting Gill Johnson and Rory Ross in conversation with writer Juliet Nicolson to discuss the contrast between Venice past and present, and immerse themselves in the glittering post-war vibrancy of the city that floats above the lagoon.

The talk will be followed by a drinks reception and the opportunity to meet the authors and buy signed copies of their book.


Juliet Nicolson is the author of two works of non-fiction that bookend the First World War, The Perfect Summer: Dancing into Shadow in 1911 and The Great Silence : Living in the Shadow of the Great War 1918-1920 as well as Abdication, a novel set in 1936. Her most recent book, A House Full of Daughters, is a memoir of seven generations of her own family. She is a contributing editor to Harper’s Bazaar magazine and lives with her husband in East Sussex.

Gill Johnson worked in the Publications Department of the National Gallery before going to Venice. After marrying the man to whom she addressed her letters, she worked in the British Embassy in Paris, then returned to London to assist Kenneth Clark. She is the longest serving member of the Bach Choir, which she joined in 1949. Love from Venice is her first book.

Rory Ross is the son of Gill Johnson and has been a journalist since graduating from Cambridge where he read history. He is now a freelance contributor to publications such as Tatler and The Telegraph.

All proceeds from this event will go directly towards the vital conservation work of Venice in Peril