Your Questions



I assume that you met aspiring writers who tell you, of the difficulty ( or  ease ) of getting a book published for the first time. Have you ever thought, whether it is easier or harder in 2018, for a first time writer to get a book published compared to early 80's when you were in their position?

Regards and thanks,



It’s always been hard . . . but is it harder now?  I suspect it’s harder to break into conventional publishing, but that’s merely a suspicion. I did read the other day that the number of professional writers has shrunk in the last two decades, though the report didn’t give figures . . . but I’d assume that if there are fewer people doing a job then it suggests that the barriers to entering that job are more daunting. On the other hand self-publishing has never been easier (or cheaper) and a number of very successful writers have used that route . . . . I’d still like to believe that a good book will find its way onto the market, but am very glad I’m not starting out right now!


Dear Mr. Cornwell,

I have just finished reading Gallows Thief and I found your novel really engrossing and enjoyable. Please can I ask if you plan to write a further book in the series. I would love to find out more about Sandman, Berrigan and Sally, to see how there adventures continue and how their business partnership develops.  Thanks again for another great book.

Jan Jedynak


I have considered it....but I'm not sure I'll ever get to it!


Greetings from Ireland

I have read your books off and on since I was a teenager and they are some of my favourites.  I can't help but notice a similar storytelling style to another of my favourite authors, David Gemmell.  I was wondering if you read any of his work or indeed if you ever met the man?

Thank you for the adventures.



I do like his books but, unfortunately, never did get the chance to meet him.


When will we hear from Starbuck again?

Bill Horner


Mr Cornwell,

I find all your books wonderful and am very pleased to hear that Uhtred's adventures will continue.  I appreciate you are a very busy man but will Starbuck be seeing the war through to a conclusion?

Many thanks

Gavin Johnson


I just don't know when (or if??) I'll get back to Starbuck....


Hi Bernard,

Have always been a fan of yours and having just finished the grail quest It was the death of a Robbie Douglas a death I did not expect that I found myself wondering what is your process for killing a character off? I remember reading you regretted killing Hakeswell off. Do you decide before writing, do you let the story decide or do you feel you can’t go any further with that character?

Keep up the good work can’t wait for the next Uhtred book.  Any chance of you letting the title slip so we can all have I guess at what’s going to happen?



Hi Mr. Cornwell.

Isn't it about time for you to reveal the proposed title of Uhtred #11?

Alan Kempner


I never decide anything before writing . . . the story unfolds as you write it, and usually those deaths help the plot which is why they’re there. I often regret them, but leave them in!


It is. Almost there . . . . .




Hello Bernard

First I’d like to thank you for The Saxon stories, I’ve read them again and again, luckily I live inNewcastle upon Tyne so I often visit Bamburgh Castle, somewhere down the line I’m related to 10th century Uhtred, so we are perhaps very distant cousins. My question is regarding Simmerson, when you wrote the character did you every think or base him on the character or the style of TT , Terry Thomas?

Thanks Mathew

Ps will you be doing anything in Newcastle this year?


Oh lord no!  I liked Terry Thomas!

I don't think so....


Mr Cornwell,

I've read almost all your Sharpe books and I love them like almost nothing else (God Stalk by P.C. Hodgell is still my favorite). Thank you for some great adventures. Anyway, I was wondering how you come up with your foreign names, like Leroux and de l'Eclin and Ducos. Even the English ones are so inventive -- Obadiah Hakeswill and d'Alembord. I'm having a hard  time coming up with non-generic names for my characters. Do you have a trick or a website or just a talent? Thank you,



Index of books!


I love the books of the Grail Quest series, but I got a little ahead of myself before I realized there were more.  I first found "1356" on the shelves at my public library and then read "The Archers Tale" (yes I am an American).  I am going to try to get them all in order from here on out  (Confession, I have already started another out of order in the Last Kingdom series)

My question is about the name , Will Skeat..' I have already read another comment that he was not a real person.  However, there was a 19th century English etymologist named Walter William Skeat.  I was wondering if that may have been where you got the name.

John Miller Pickett


It is indeed – I use Skeat’s Dictionary of Etymology all the time.


Dear Bernard,

First of all you'll have to forgive me as i've already had a few attempts at this as to appear obsessed.

This would be my last throw of the dice but I think I have found a suitable candidate for Sharpe's father in Jack Pickersgill from Frederic Marryat's The Three Cutters.

Not only is  he a smuggler, but an orphan also and  his appearance matches Sharpe's.

Kipling's Smugglers song could be influenced by The Three Cutters.

Pickergill and his men dress as Gentlemen  and have the Ladies smuggle lace ashore being "careful what you say, and mindful what is said".

Kipling has used Marryat as an influence before in Snarleyow so that may add some credibility to the link between Three Cutters and The Smugglers song.

Also Pickersgill's ship is called "The happy go lucky"

Marryat is known as a pioneer of the sea story so with yourself being a keen sailor I can certainly see you being influenced by him. Can also see how Pickergill as a character would resonate with you, not only for him being an orphan.

To cover all bases is Pickersgill essentially the same character of M'Elvina from "The Kings Own" but in a different guise?

In "King's Own" Valenciennes lace is even mentioned to fit with the Smuggler's Song clue.

There would seem a lot of coincidences for this not to be correct, but not pinning my hopes too high.

I was quite confident in a previous answer also.





Wonderfully ingenious! I’m impressed. Really impressed!  It’s wrong, but still impressive!



Hi there,

I suspect I'm one of your younger readers, considering I started reading the books earlier than would be regarded normal (19 and I first read 'The Last Kingdom' at 12), so I suppose you could say that I've grown up with Uhtred. The series, along with many of your other works, has inspired a lot of my own interest in writing and by proxy acting, two of the paths I'm now trying to pursue. So for that I'd just like to say I'm grateful. I have a couple of quick questions and would love to hear from you.Now my first question is a bit of an odd one, but I've always been curious about Eadith: why does Uhtred speak so little of her when he refers to himself as an old man? He talks about Gisela and Ætheflaed and even Iseult, but I don't think he's ever mentioned Eadith, unless (and I think not?) she is the pious Christian wife that he refers to with contempt. At this point (post 'The Flame Bearer'), he's been with her for as many books and almost as much time seemingly as anyone else, and yet she's still seldom mentioned. I understand that in earlier books she may not have been a fully-fledged character in your plans, but by now she is a close companion of Uhtred's and yet seemingly remains relegated to second tier in his affections. I suppose I'm just curious as to why?

Secondly, (more brief this one) Uhtred and Cnut fighting each other in their prime in a fair fight: who wins? I would assume Uhtred based on his victory as an old man (by relative standards), but he used his ingenuity rather than ability to defeat Cnut on that occasion.

Finally, as a writer myself (don't worry I'm not going to send you a screenplay!), I'd be curious to know, with a long form series of books like yours (for which I think 'The Saxon Stories' is the correct term but I'm still uncertain), how many books in advance do you plan? Did you know the general shape for the whole arc before you began, or does each story build mostly off what has come before?

I know that I've asked more than my fair share, but as I say, I've had so many questions and only just discovered (whilst sat re-watching season 2 on Netflix) that the option to contact you was available. I hope to hear from you soon, and in the meantime: keep them coming! I hope Uhtred and co have many more adventures ahead!



I think it’s simply because he doesn’t spend much time with her!  There’s nothing sinister in it – they’re happy!  For now.

Uhtred. Of course!

Well,  there's no master-plan. I do have inklings of what might be ahead but beyond that I leave it to the imagination as a book gets written.  Probably the wrong way to do it, but there you go!



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