Bernard Cornwell
Overview
 
Bernard Cornwell OBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 (born 23 February 1944) is an English author
Author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...

 of historical novel
Historical novel
According to Encyclopædia Britannica, a historical novel is-Development:An early example of historical prose fiction is Luó Guànzhōng's 14th century Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which covers one of the most important periods of Chinese history and left a lasting impact on Chinese culture.The...

s. He is best known for his novels about Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

 rifleman Richard Sharpe
Richard Sharpe (fictional character)
Sharpe is a series of historical fiction stories by Bernard Cornwell centred on the character of Richard Sharpe. The stories formed the basis for an ITV television series wherein the eponymous character was played by Sean Bean....

 which were adapted into a series of Sharpe television films
Sharpe (TV series)
Sharpe is a British series of television dramas starring Sean Bean about Richard Sharpe, a fictional British soldier in the Napoleonic Wars. Sharpe is the hero of a number of novels by Bernard Cornwell; most, though not all, of the episodes are based on the books...

.
Cornwell was born in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 in 1944. His father was a Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 airman, and his mother was English, a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force
Women's Auxiliary Air Force
The Women's Auxiliary Air Force , whose members were invariably referred to as Waafs , was the female auxiliary of the Royal Air Force during World War II, established in 1939. At its peak strength, in 1943, WAAF numbers exceeded 180,000, with over 2,000 women enlisting per week.A Women's Royal Air...

. He was adopted and brought up in Thundersley
Thundersley
Thundersley is a district in the north west of the Castle Point Borough, in south east Essex, England, about 35 miles east of London.-Toponymy:...

, Essex by the Wiggins family, who were members of the Peculiar People
Peculiar People
For the book by Rodney Clapp see: A Peculiar People."The Peculiar People", is also a Quaker novel by Jan de Hartog.The Peculiar People were originally an offshoot of the Wesleyan denomination, founded in 1838 in Rochford, Essex, by John Banyard, a farm worker's son born in 1800...

, a strict sect who were pacifists, banned frivolity of all kinds and even medicine.
Encyclopedia
Bernard Cornwell OBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 (born 23 February 1944) is an English author
Author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...

 of historical novel
Historical novel
According to Encyclopædia Britannica, a historical novel is-Development:An early example of historical prose fiction is Luó Guànzhōng's 14th century Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which covers one of the most important periods of Chinese history and left a lasting impact on Chinese culture.The...

s. He is best known for his novels about Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

 rifleman Richard Sharpe
Richard Sharpe (fictional character)
Sharpe is a series of historical fiction stories by Bernard Cornwell centred on the character of Richard Sharpe. The stories formed the basis for an ITV television series wherein the eponymous character was played by Sean Bean....

 which were adapted into a series of Sharpe television films
Sharpe (TV series)
Sharpe is a British series of television dramas starring Sean Bean about Richard Sharpe, a fictional British soldier in the Napoleonic Wars. Sharpe is the hero of a number of novels by Bernard Cornwell; most, though not all, of the episodes are based on the books...

.

Biography

Cornwell was born in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 in 1944. His father was a Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 airman, and his mother was English, a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force
Women's Auxiliary Air Force
The Women's Auxiliary Air Force , whose members were invariably referred to as Waafs , was the female auxiliary of the Royal Air Force during World War II, established in 1939. At its peak strength, in 1943, WAAF numbers exceeded 180,000, with over 2,000 women enlisting per week.A Women's Royal Air...

. He was adopted and brought up in Thundersley
Thundersley
Thundersley is a district in the north west of the Castle Point Borough, in south east Essex, England, about 35 miles east of London.-Toponymy:...

, Essex by the Wiggins family, who were members of the Peculiar People
Peculiar People
For the book by Rodney Clapp see: A Peculiar People."The Peculiar People", is also a Quaker novel by Jan de Hartog.The Peculiar People were originally an offshoot of the Wesleyan denomination, founded in 1838 in Rochford, Essex, by John Banyard, a farm worker's son born in 1800...

, a strict sect who were pacifists, banned frivolity of all kinds and even medicine. After he left them, he changed his name to his mother's maiden name, Cornwell.

Cornwell was sent away to Monkton Combe School
Monkton Combe School
Monkton Combe School is an independent boarding and day school of the British public school tradition, near Bath, England. The Senior School is located in the village of Monkton Combe, while the Prep School, Pre-Prep and Nursery are in Combe Down on the southern outskirts of Bath...

. He attended the University of London
University of London
-20th century:Shortly after 6 Burlington Gardens was vacated, the University went through a period of rapid expansion. Bedford College, Royal Holloway and the London School of Economics all joined in 1900, Regent's Park College, which had affiliated in 1841 became an official divinity school of the...

, and after graduating, worked as a teacher. He attempted to enlist in the British armed services at least three times, but was rejected on the grounds of myopia
Myopia
Myopia , "shortsightedness" ) is a refractive defect of the eye in which collimated light produces image focus in front of the retina under conditions of accommodation. In simpler terms, myopia is a condition of the eye where the light that comes in does not directly focus on the retina but in...

.

He then joined the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

's Nationwide
Nationwide (TV series)
Nationwide was a BBC News and Current affairs television programme broadcast on BBC One each weekday following the early evening news. It followed a magazine format, combining political analysis and discussion with consumer affairs, light entertainment and sports reporting...

 and was promoted to become head of current affairs at BBC Northern Ireland. He then joined Thames Television
Thames Television
Thames Television was a licensee of the British ITV television network, covering London and parts of the surrounding counties on weekdays from 30 July 1968 until 31 December 1992....

 as editor of Thames News. He relocated to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in 1979 after marrying an American. Unable to get a green Card
United States Permanent Resident Card
United States lawful permanent residency refers to a person's immigration status: the person is authorized to live and work in the United States of America on a permanent basis....

, he started writing novels, as this did not require a work permit. He later became a U.S. citizen. He currently resides on Cape Cod
Cape Cod
Cape Cod, often referred to locally as simply the Cape, is a cape in the easternmost portion of the state of Massachusetts, in the Northeastern United States...

 in Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

.

As a child, Cornwell loved the novels of C. S. Forester
C. S. Forester
Cecil Scott "C.S." Forester was the pen name of Cecil Louis Troughton Smith , an English novelist who rose to fame with tales of naval warfare. His most notable works were the 11-book Horatio Hornblower series, depicting a Royal Navy officer during the Napoleonic era, and The African Queen...

, chronicling the adventures of fictional British naval officer Horatio Hornblower
Horatio Hornblower
Horatio Hornblower is a fictional Royal Navy officer who is the protagonist of a series of novels by C. S. Forester. He was later the subject of films and television programs.The original Hornblower tales began with the 1937 novel The Happy Return Horatio Hornblower is a fictional Royal Navy...

 during the Napoleonic Wars, and was surprised to find that there were no such novels following Lord Wellington
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS , was an Irish-born British soldier and statesman, and one of the leading military and political figures of the 19th century...

's campaign on land. Motivated by the need to support himself in the U.S. through writing, Cornwell decided to write such a series. He named his chief protagonist Richard Sharpe, a rifleman involved in most of the major battles of the Peninsular War
Peninsular War
The Peninsular War was a war between France and the allied powers of Spain, the United Kingdom, and Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when French and Spanish armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807. Then, in 1808, France turned on its...

. Cornwell took the name from rugby player Richard Sharp
Richard Sharp
Richard Adrian William Sharp from Cornwall, was educated at Blundell's School and at Balliol College, University of Oxford. He was a former Cornish rugby player at Redruth R.F.C., Wasps FC, Bristol FC and England rugby union fly-half and captain. He played for England while at Oxford and led...

.

Cornwell wanted to start the series with the Siege of Badajoz but decided instead to start with a couple of "warm-up" novels. These were Sharpe's Eagle
Sharpe's Eagle (novel)
Sharpe's Eagle is an historical novel by Bernard Cornwell. Set in July 1809 during the Peninsular War and featuring the Battle of Talavera it is the 8th in the Richard Sharpe Series...

and Sharpe's Gold
Sharpe's Gold (novel)
Sharpe's Gold is a historical novel by Bernard Cornwell. Set in August 1810 during the Peninsular War and featuring the destruction of Almeida it is the 9th in the Richard Sharpe Series.-Plot introduction:...

, both published in 1981. Sharpe's Eagle was picked up by a publisher, and Cornwell got a three-book deal. He went on to tell the story of Badajoz in his third Sharpe novel Sharpe's Company published in 1982.

Cornwell and wife Judy co-wrote a series of novels, published under the pseudonym "Susannah Kells". These were A Crowning Mercy, published in 1983, Fallen Angels in 1984, and Coat of Arms (aka The Aristocrats) in 1986. (Cornwell's strict Protestant upbringing informed the background of A Crowning Mercy, which took place during the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

.) He also published Redcoat, an American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

 novel set in Philadelphia during its 1777 occupation by the British, in 1987.

After publishing 8 books in his ongoing Sharpe series, Cornwell was approached by a production company interested in adapting them for television. The producers asked him to write a prequel to give them a starting point to the series. They also requested that the story feature a large role for Spanish characters to secure co-funding from Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

. The result was Sharpe’s Rifles
Sharpe's Rifles (novel)
Sharpe's Rifles was the first prequel novel in the series written by Bernard Cornwell. It tells the story of Richard Sharpe and the French Invasion of Galicia, January 1809...

, published in 1987 and a series of Sharpe television films
Sharpe (TV series)
Sharpe is a British series of television dramas starring Sean Bean about Richard Sharpe, a fictional British soldier in the Napoleonic Wars. Sharpe is the hero of a number of novels by Bernard Cornwell; most, though not all, of the episodes are based on the books...

 starring Sean Bean
Sean Bean
Shaun Mark "Sean" Bean is an English film and stage actor. Bean is best known for playing Boromir in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and, previously, British Colonel Richard Sharpe in the ITV television series Sharpe...

.

A series of contemporary thrillers with sailing as a background and common themes followed: Wildtrack published in 1988, Sea Lord (aka Killer's Wake) in 1989, Crackdown in 1990, Stormchild in 1991, and a political thriller called Scoundrel in 1992.

In June 2006, Cornwell was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 in the Queen
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

's 80th Birthday Honours List.

Azincourt
Azincourt (book)
Azincourt is an historical novel written by Bernard Cornwell. The book relates the events leading to the Battle of Agincourt, through its protagonist Nicholas Hook. In the United States, it was published under the title Agincourt.-Plot:...

was released in the UK in October 2008. The protagonist is an archer who participates in the Battle of Agincourt
Battle of Agincourt
The Battle of Agincourt was a major English victory against a numerically superior French army in the Hundred Years' War. The battle occurred on Friday, 25 October 1415 , near modern-day Azincourt, in northern France...

, a devastating defeat suffered by the French during the Hundred Years War. In 2009, he released The Burning Land
The Burning Land
The Burning Land is a novel based in the 9th century Anglo-Saxon kingdoms Wessex, Northumbria and Mercia. It is the fifth book in Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Tales series, and starts where Sword Song left off.-Plot summary:...

, another of the five Saxon Stories centered on the protagonist Uhtred of Bebbanburg.

Another of Cornwell's standalone novels, The Fort
The Fort (novel)
The Fort is an historical novel written by Bernard Cornwell. The book relates to the events of the Penobscot Expedition of 1779 during the American Revolutionary War....

, was published on 30 September 2010. It relates to the events of the Penobscot Expedition
Penobscot Expedition
The Penobscot Expedition was the largest American naval expedition of the American Revolutionary War and the United States' worst naval defeat until Pearl Harbor...

 of 1779 during the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

. Set in the summer of 1779, it follows a British force of fewer than a thousand Scottish infantry backed by three sloops-of-war, which were sent to what is now Castine in the State of Maine. The War of Independence was in its third year and the Scots were the only British troops between Canada and New York. Their orders were to make a garrison that could serve as a safe haven and a naval base. The State of Massachusetts was determined to expel the British and sent a fleet of forty vessels and some one thousand infantrymen to 'captivate, kill or destroy' the invaders.

The Sharpe stories

Cornwell's best known books feature the adventures of Richard Sharpe, an English soldier during the Napoleonic Wars.

The first 11 books of the Sharpe series (beginning in chronological order with Sharpe's Rifles and ending with Sharpe's Waterloo, published in the US as Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands...

) detail Sharpe's adventures in various Peninsular War
Peninsular War
The Peninsular War was a war between France and the allied powers of Spain, the United Kingdom, and Portugal for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when French and Spanish armies crossed Spain and invaded Portugal in 1807. Then, in 1808, France turned on its...

 campaigns over the course of 6–7 years. Subsequently, Cornwell wrote a prequel quintology – Sharpe's Tiger, Sharpe's Triumph, Sharpe's Fortress, Sharpe's Trafalgar and Sharpe's Prey – depicting Sharpe's adventures under Wellington's command in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, including his hard-won promotion to the officer corps, his return to England and his arrival in the 95th Rifles, and a sequel, Sharpe's Devil, set six years after the end of the wars.

He also wrote Sharpe's Battle, a novel "inserted" into his previous continuity, taking place during the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro
Battle of Fuentes de Onoro
In the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro , the British-Portuguese Army under Viscount Wellington checked an attempt by the French Army of Portugal under Marshal André Masséna to relieve the besieged city of Almeida.-Background:...

. It has been alleged that Cornwell was initially dubious about the casting of Sean Bean for the television adaptations, but if this is true the doubts did not last as he was subsequently so delighted that he dedicated Sharpe's Battle to him, and has admitted that he subtly changed the writing of the character to align with Bean's portrayal. Since 2003, he has written further "missing adventures" set during the "classic" Peninsular War era.

The following is the correct 'historical' order, although they are all stand alone stories:
# Title Publisher Publication Date

The Starbuck Chronicles

A tetralogy set during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. The title character, Nathaniel Starbuck
Nathaniel Starbuck
Nathaniel Starbuck is a fictional Confederate Army officer, Copperhead, and the main character in Bernard Cornwell's Starbuck Chronicles.- Life before the books :...

, is a Northerner
Union (American Civil War)
During the American Civil War, the Union was a name used to refer to the federal government of the United States, which was supported by the twenty free states and five border slave states. It was opposed by 11 southern slave states that had declared a secession to join together to form the...

 who has decided to fight for the South
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 in a Virginian regiment, the Faulconer Legion. The last novel to date in the series has been The Bloody Ground, taking place during the Antietam Campaign. Cornwell has said that he plans to write more Starbuck novels, but has not done so yet. On his website Cornwell has recently stated that he is 'thinking' about Starbuck again.
# Title Publisher Date

The Warlord Chronicles

A trilogy depicting Cornwell's historical re-creation of Arthurian
King Arthur
King Arthur is a legendary British leader of the late 5th and early 6th centuries, who, according to Medieval histories and romances, led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the early 6th century. The details of Arthur's story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and...

 Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

. The series posits that Post-Roman Britain was a difficult time for the native Britons, being threatened by invasion from the Anglo-Saxons in the East and raids from the Irish in the West. At the same time, they suffered internal power struggles between their petty kingdoms and friction between the old Druidic religion and newly-arrived Christianity.
# Title Publisher Date


The Grail Quest novels

A trilogy that deals with a mid-14th century search for the Holy Grail
Holy Grail
The Holy Grail is a sacred object figuring in literature and certain Christian traditions, most often identified with the dish, plate, or cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper and said to possess miraculous powers...

 during the Hundred Years' War
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

. An English archer
Archery
Archery is the art, practice, or skill of propelling arrows with the use of a bow, from Latin arcus. Archery has historically been used for hunting and combat; in modern times, however, its main use is that of a recreational activity...

, Thomas of Hookton, becomes drawn into the quest by the actions of a mercenary soldier called "The Harlequin," who murders Thomas's family in his own obsessive search for the Grail. Cornwell was planning at one point to write more books about the main character Thomas of Hookton and said that shortly after finishing Heretic he had "... started another Thomas of Hookton book, then stopped it – mainly because I felt that his story ended in Heretic and I was just trying to get too much from him. Which doesn't mean I won't pick the idea up again sometime in the future."
# Title Publisher Date


The Saxon Stories

Cornwell's latest series focuses on the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex
Wessex
The Kingdom of Wessex or Kingdom of the West Saxons was an Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the West Saxons, in South West England, from the 6th century, until the emergence of a united English state in the 10th century, under the Wessex dynasty. It was to be an earldom after Canute the Great's conquest...

, England during the 9th-century reign of Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great was King of Wessex from 871 to 899.Alfred is noted for his defence of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of southern England against the Vikings, becoming the only English monarch still to be accorded the epithet "the Great". Alfred was the first King of the West Saxons to style himself...

, his fierce opposition to the Danes and his determination to unite England as one country. According to Cornwell's replies on his website bulletin board, the series will not be a trilogy like his medieval works, but will have 3 or 4 more sequels: "I'm not sure how many there will be – perhaps seven? maybe eight?"
# Title Publisher Date

The Thrillers

Cornwell's thriller series are modern mysteries, all with sailing themes. He is a traditional sailor and enjoys sailing his Cornish Crabber by the name of "Royalist." His thorough knowledge of sailing and popular skills with writing combine in great novels for the nautically obsessed. According to Cornwell's website, there may be no additions to the series: "I enjoyed writing the thrillers, but suspect I am happier writing historical novels. I'm always delighted when people want more of the sailing books, but I'm not planning on writing any more, at least not now - but who knows? perhaps when I retire."
Title Publisher Date


Other Standalone Novels

Title Publisher Date


External links

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