Cornwell in 2013
|Born||23 February 1944|
|Notable works|| The Saxon Stories |
The Warlord Chronicles
Bernard Cornwell,(born 23 February 1944) is a British author of historical novels and a history of the Waterloo Campaign. He is best known for his novels about Napoleonic Wars rifleman Richard Sharpe. He has also written the Saxon / Last Kingdom stories about King Alfred and the making of England.
He has written historical novels primarily on English history in five series, and one series of contemporary thriller novels. A feature of his historical novels is an end note on how they match or differ from history, and what one might see at the modern sites of the battles described. He wrote a nonfiction book on the battle of Waterloo, in addition to the fictional story of the famous battle in the Sharpe series. Two of the historical novel series have been adapted for television: the Sharpe television series by ITV and The Last Kingdom by BBC. He lives in the US with his wife, alternating between Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Charleston, South Carolina.
Cornwell was born in London in 1944. His father was Canadian airman William Oughtredand his mother was Englishwoman Dorothy Cornwell, a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. He was adopted and brought up in Thundersley, Essex by the Wiggins family; they were members of the Peculiar People, a strict sect of pacifists who banned frivolity of all kinds, and even medicine up to 1930. Reacting to being raised by Christian Fundamentalists, he grew up rejecting all religions and became an atheist.
After his adoptive father died, he changed his last name by deed poll from Wiggins to Cornwell, his birth mother's maiden name. Prior to that, he used Bernard Cornwell as a pen name.He met his father for the first time when he was 58, after telling a journalist on a book tour, "what I wanted to see in Vancouver was my real father." There he met his half-siblings, with whom he shares many traits, and learned his genealogy.
Cornwell was sent to Monkton Combe School in Somerset. He read history at University College Londonbetween 1963 and 1966 and worked as a teacher after graduating. He attempted to enlist in the British armed services at least three times, but was rejected on the grounds of myopia.
Following his work as a teacher, Cornwell joined the BBC's Nationwide and was later promoted to head of current affairs at BBC Northern Ireland. He then joined Thames Television as editor of Thames News .His first marriage ended in divorce in 1970s. He met his second wife in 1978 in Edinburgh while he worked for BBC Northern Ireland; she was a travel agent from the US and the mother of three children from a previous marriage. He relocated to the United States in 1979 after marrying her. He was unable to get a United States Permanent Resident Card (green card), so he started writing novels, as this did not require a work permit. He later became a United States citizen.
As a child, Cornwell loved the novels of C. S. Forester chronicling the adventures of fictional British naval officer Horatio Hornblower during the Napoleonic Wars. He was surprised to find that there were no such novels following Lord Wellington's campaign on land, so he wrote that series himself—further motivated by the need to support himself through writing. He created his chief protagonist as a rifleman involved in most of the major battles of the Peninsular War, taking the character's name from rugby player Richard Sharp.
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 and Sharpe's Gold , both published in 1981.He went on to tell the story of Badajoz in Sharpe's Company published in 1982. He had a seven-book deal with publisher HarperCollins, after linking with Toby Eady as his agent.
Cornwell and wife Judy co-wrote a series of novels published under the pseudonym "Susannah Kells": A Crowning Mercy published in 1983, Fallen Angels in 1984, and Coat of Arms (aka The Aristocrats) in 1986. Cornwell's strict Protestant upbringing forms the background of A Crowning Mercy, which takes place during the English Civil War. He also published Redcoat in 1987, an American Revolutionary War novel set in Philadelphia during its 1777 occupation by the British.
Cornwell was approached by a production company interested in making television adaptations of the first eight books of his Sharpe series. They asked him to write a background novel to give them a starting point to the series, and they also requested that the story feature a large role for Spanish characters in order to secure co-funding from Spain. The result was Sharpe's Rifles , published in 1987 and set when the English retreated at A Coruña until Wellesley arrived in Spain. It also resulted in a series of Sharpe television films starring Sean Bean.
This was followed by a series of modern thrillers with sailing as a background and common themes: Wildtrack published in 1988, Sea Lord (or Killer's Wake) in 1989, Crackdown in 1990, Stormchild in 1991, and the political thriller Scoundrel in 1992.
Cornwell wrote two books a year for a long time, slowing to one book per year in his sixties.He views historical fiction as presenting a big story in the historical events and a little story in the fictional plot. Patrick O'Brian wrote the Aubrey-Maturin series of historical adventures set in the Napoleonic era, and he said that there was "too much plot, not enough lifestyle" in both Cornwell's novels and those of C. S. Forester. Cornwell took that as a compliment and an accurate appraisal of the difference between their styles, while appreciating the favorable comparison to Forester.
With the success of the Sharpe series, Cornwell began to write about other time periods and historical events of English and American history, both in series and in single novels. Azincourt was released in the UK in October 2008. The protagonist is an archer who participates in the Battle of Agincourt, a devastating defeat suffered by the French during the Hundred Years' War. In 2004, he released The Last Kingdom , beginning the Saxon Stories centered on protagonist Uhtred of Bebbanburg and telling how the nation of England began under Alfred the Great. The twelfth novel in the series was published in 2019 as Sword of Kings. He realized that few in England knew how England began, unlike Americans who have a clear date for their nation's beginning—so this became his big story. His own ancestral roots gave him the little story in the protagonist Uhtred.
The Fort is another of Cornwell's standalone novels, published in 2010. It tells of the Penobscot Expedition of 1779 during the American Revolutionary War. He has been successful overall in his writing career, selling 30 million books by 2015 throughout the various series and individual novels, and he continues to write new novels.
In June 2006, Cornwell was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's 80th Birthday Honours List.
Cornwell's first series of historical novels features the adventures of Richard Sharpe, an English soldier during the Napoleonic Wars, in particular the Peninsular Wars once Arthur Wellesley was sent to lead the campaign against Napoleon's forces on the Iberian Peninsula. The first 11 books of the Sharpe series began with Sharpe's Rifles and ended with Sharpe's Waterloo, published in the US as Waterloo . These detail Sharpe's adventures in various Peninsular War campaigns over the course of seven years. Subsequently, Cornwell wrote Sharpe's Tiger, Sharpe's Triumph, Sharpe's Fortress, Sharpe's Trafalgar, and Sharpe's Prey, depicting Sharpe's earlier adventures under Wellington's command in India, including his hard-won promotion to the officer corps, his return to Britain, and his arrival in the 95th Rifles; he also wrote the sequel Sharpe's Devil, set six years after the end of the wars. Sharpe's Battle takes place during the Battle of Fuentes de Onoro. Since 2003, he has written further "missing adventures" set during the Peninsular War era, based on major battles of that long campaign, for a total of 24 novels in this series.
Cornwell mentions in notes at the end of the Sharpe series that he was initially dubious about the casting of Sean Bean for the television adaptations, but that the doubts did not last and he was subsequently so delighted that he dedicated Sharpe's Battle to him. He has admitted that he subtly changed the writing of the character to align with Bean's portrayal as now he "could not imagine Sharpe as anyone else". One of Cornwell's initial misgivings about Bean was that he did not physically resemble the black-haired Sharpe whom he described in the early books, but he thought that Bean understood and acted the part perfectly, and he subsequently refrained from mentioning Sharpe's hair color.
A trilogy depicting Cornwell's historical re-creation of Arthurian Britain. 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. The author has often said that these are his own favourite stories, "I have to confess that of all the books I have written these three are my favourites."
This series deals with a mid-14th century search for the Holy Grail during the Hundred Years' War. English archer Thomas of Hookton becomes drawn into the quest by the actions of a mercenary soldier called "The Harlequin" who murders Thomas' family in his obsessive search for the Grail. Cornwell was planning at one point to write more books about 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."He returned to the character in 1356 published in 2012.
Cornwell's latest series focuses on the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, England during the 9th-century reign of Alfred the Great, his fierce opposition to the Danes and his determination to unite England as one country. The series idea took shape in his mind after meeting his real father in Canada in his fifties, learning his own ancestry back to that era, to Uhtred of Bebbanburg who became Uhtred, the protagonist of the series.Cornwell realised that most English people are unaware of how England came to be, rather than say, Dane-land, in that era of multiple peoples on the island of Great Britain. The first novel was published in 2004. The series continues after the death of Alfred, as his heirs consolidate the nation. The most recent novel, Sword of Kings was the twelfth in the series, and was published in October 2019. On 5 March 2020, Cornwell announced on social media that the 13th book will be titled War Lord, and will be the final novel in the series.
The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman were the basis for the first series of the television series, The Last Kingdom , while The Lords of the North and Sword Song were the basis for the second series. A third series, based on The Burning Land and Death of Kings, was released in November 2018, and a fourth series was released in April 2020. A fifth series was confirmed on 7 July 2020.
Four novels set during the American Civil War follow the adventures of Boston-born Nathaniel Starbuck during his service in the Confederate Army. The series is notable for an appearance by Richard Sharpe's son as a supporting character.
Cornwell's thriller series are modern mysteries, all with sailing themes. He is a traditional sailor and enjoys sailing his Cornish Crabber christened Royalist. 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".
In addition to his many novels, including a fictional account ( Sharpe's Waterloo ) of the battle of Waterloo, Cornwell published a nonfiction book, Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies and Three Battles , released in September 2014, in time for the 200th anniversary of that battle.
Sharpe is a series of historical fiction stories by Bernard Cornwell centered on the character of Richard Sharpe. The stories formed the basis for an ITV television series featuring Sean Bean in the title role.
The Warlord Chronicles or The Warlord Trilogy is a series of three novels about Arthurian Britain written by Bernard Cornwell. The story is written as a mixture of historical fiction and Arthurian mythology. The books were originally published between 1995 and 1997 by Penguin and Michael Joseph in the United Kingdom and by St. Martin's Press in the United States, in hardcover and paperback editions, each with different ISBNs.
Sharpe is a British television series of stories starring Sean Bean as Richard Sharpe, a fictional British soldier in the Napoleonic Wars, with Irish actor Daragh O'Malley playing his second in command Patrick Harper. Sharpe and Harper are the heroes of the Sharpe series of novels by Bernard Cornwell; most, though not all, of the episodes are based on the books. Produced by Celtic Films and Picture Palace Films for the ITV network, the series was shot mainly in Crimea, a few episodes in Turkey, although some filming was also done in England, Portugal and Spain. Two episodes were filmed in India.
The Saxon Stories is a historical novel series written by Bernard Cornwell about the birth of England in the ninth and tenth centuries. The protagonist of the series is Uhtred of Bebbanburg, born to a Saxon lord in Northumbria. He is captured and adopted by a Danish warlord. The name of the fictional protagonist comes from the historical Uhtred the Bold; Cornwell is a descendant of this family.
Sharpe's Trafalgar is the fourth historical novel in the Richard Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell, first published in 2000. It is the first of the novels in the wars against Napoleon, putting the army ensign at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The novel is the first time that Sharpe encounters the Nock Gun, originally developed for the Navy and the later weapon of choice of Patrick Harper.
Sharpe's Eagle is a historical novel in the Richard Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell, first published in 1981. The story is set in July 1809, in the midst of the Talavera Campaign during the Peninsular War. It was the first Sharpe novel published, but eighth in the series' chronological order.
Sharpe's Gold is the second historical novel in the Richard Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell first published in 1981. The story is set in August 1810 and features the destruction of Almeida during the Peninsular War.
Sharpe's Company is the thirteenth historical novel in the Richard Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell, first published in 1982. The story is set January to August 1812 featuring the Siege of Badajoz during the Peninsular War.
Sharpe's Christmas, is a short story collection by historical fiction author Bernard Cornwell which he began conceptualising in 1980s. It contains two stories featuring Cornwell's fictional hero Richard Sharpe. It was published by The Sharpe Appreciation Society in 2003 in order to raise funds for The Bernard and Judy Cornwell Foundation. This novel contains two stories that take place at different times, thus in an interview with the author, the book was left unnumbered in the Sharpe’s series.
Because of its pivotal role in European and world history, the Battle of Waterloo has a prominent place in military history and is frequently mentioned in popular culture and the arts.
The Burning Land is the fifth historical novel in The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell, published in 2009. The story is set in the 9th-century Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Wessex, Northumbria and Mercia. The first half of season 3 of the British television series The Last Kingdom is based on this novel.
Death of Kings, published in 2011, is the sixth novel of Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Tales series. It continues the story of Saxon warlord Uhtred of Bebbanburg who keeps fighting against a new Danish invasion of Wessex and Mercia.
Bernard Cornwell's career started in 1981 with Sharpe's Eagle. He has been a prolific historical novelist since then having published more than 50 novels.
1356 is the fourth novel in The Grail Quest series by Bernard Cornwell. It is set in 1356, nearly a decade after the original trilogy, and culminates with the Battle of Poitiers. Intertwined in the plot is the quest to find La Malice, a fabled sword of Saint Peter and Christian relic which may turn the tide of the long war for France.
The Last Kingdom is a British historical fiction television series based on Bernard Cornwell's The Saxon Stories series of novels. The first series of eight episodes premiered on 10 October 2015 on BBC America, and on BBC Two in the UK on 22 October 2015. A second series of eight episodes was aired on BBC Two in the UK in March 2017. Netflix was the sole distributor of the third series of ten episodes, produced by Carnival Films, streamed from 19 November 2018. On 26 December 2018, Netflix renewed the show for a fourth series, released on 26 April 2020 and once again produced by Carnival Films. It was renewed for a fifth series on 7 July 2020.
Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies and Three Battles is a history book written by Bernard Cornwell, first published in Great Britain by William Collins on 11 September 2014, and by Harper Collins Publishers on 5 May 2015 in the United States. It is Cornwell's first work of nonfiction, after publishing more than forty novels in the historical fiction genre, including the popular Richard Sharpe series taking place during the Napoleonic Wars. The book recounts the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815, including preceding events from the campaign of the same name and The Hundred Days.
The Napoleonic Wars were a defining event of the early 19th century, and inspired many works of fiction, from then until the present day.
The Flame Bearer is the tenth historical novel in The Saxon Stories series aka The Last Kingdom series by Bernard Cornwell, first published in April 2016. It is set in 10th-century England and continues to follow the fortunes of the fictional Uhtred of Bebbanburg. In this novel Uhtred sets out to finally regain his childhood home, Bebbanburg, which is now held by his cousin.
War Lord is the 13th and last novel in the Saxon Stories series by Bernard Cornwell. It was published on 15 October 2020 in the UK.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Bernard Cornwell|