Journalist and author Robert Nowell has died

Robert Nowell

Robert Nowell

Robert Alexander Nowell 2 October 1931- 29 July 2019

The distinguished Catholic journalist Robert Nowell who has died aged 87 from cancer, enjoyed a long and varied career. Although he specialised in religious affairs and theology he relished any opportunity to tackle other subjects like music, poetry and travel.

After a childhood in Wimbledon and Cornwall he was just seventeen when he went up to Brasenose College, Oxford (1948-1952) to read Classics. While at Oxford he converted to Catholicism and met his future wife, another Catholic convert. Two years National Service in Germany followed then after brief editorial stints with rust remover Jenolite and a trade journal he moved to The Catholic Herald as a sub editor. Between 1962-1967 he was assistant editor of the Catholic weekly The Tablet which included time in Rome reporting from The Second Vatican Council. This was followed by the editorship of Catholic monthly Herder Correspondence, the closure of which in 1970 led to his working from home as a freelance journalist.

Fluent in several European languages, he translated numerous books into English including Hans Küng: his work and his way (1979) plus several by Pope Benedict. Robert Nowell was also the author or editor of several books about Catholicism including What a modern Catholic believes about death (1972). The weightiest in every sense was his 1981 biography of the Swiss theologian Hans Kung - A Passion For Truth. Hans Küng: A Biography.

Over the years his articles, features, letters and reviews appeared in a wide range of newspapers and magazines including the Guardian, Observer, Independent, Universe and Church Times. He never formally retired so what was probably his last piece, a book review, was published in the Church Times early last year. He is survived by Anne-Marie his wife of 64 years, his daughter Tess, his three sons Richard, John and David and four grandchildren.


Our father Robert died peacefully at home on 29th July 2019. He had been living with bowel cancer for over three years with a quiet stoicism. The final stages were mercifully swift and in the end calm and peaceful.

A Catholic funeral service and committal will be held for Robert at Trent Park Cemetery, Cockfosters Road, Barnet, EN4 ODZ on Monday 19th August 2019 at 2.30pm. Afterwards everyone is invited to raise a glass to Robert's memory at The Cock Inn, Chalk Lane, Cockfosters, Barnet, EN4 9HU.

Family flowers only but donations if you wish in memory of Robert to The Manna Society (a charity running a Day centre for homeless people that Robert supported) c/o JA Clark & Son, 103 Wood Street, Barnet, EN5 4BX.

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