Your Questions


I am 83 years old and have lived in the U.S.A. since 1967, but I was born and raised in England. For much of my life I lived in South Benfleet above the restaurant owned and operated by my parents on the high street across from the church. Thanks to your Saxon Tales books I now realize that it was the site of the battle of Benfleet, which I had thought was at the top of the hill (Essex Way) I also remember seeing a picture of the Long Boats unearthed when the railway was put through from Fenchurch Street to Southend, but now cannot find it. Can you help?


Greg Lock


I’ve never seen a picture of the Viking ships discovered when they built the Fenchurch Street to Southend railway, and I wish I had! I do know that Benfleet has some memorials to the battle and it’s believed that St. Mary’s Church was originally built to commemorate the victory, and the present church has a handsome replica of a Viking ship. Like you I long believed the battle was at the top of the hill and I was told that Bread and Cheese Hill was so named because it was a Saxon war cry (Bread and Cheese!) which would broadly translate to ‘broad and sharp’, presumably referring to their swords. That is a local myth, I suspect, though it’s more than possible that the Danish raiders were confronted on that hill and a skirmish fought there. But I’m sure the real battle was fought close to your parent’s restaurant!


I realize that I always have questions about The Grail Quest series. It's hard for me to find books that interest me, so I often re-read my favorite books. Somehow I don't tire from this.


A short excerpt from the prologue of The Archer's Tale:


Father Ralph closed his eyes, perhaps in prayer, though it looked more like exasperation. He opened them and gazed into the Harlequin's handsome face. "You are my brother's son," he said, and did not sound mad at all, merely full of regret.


This paragraph, alone, intrigues me about Ralph Vexille. He stole away his family's treasure because he renounced Catharism? I'm not entirely sure but he did argued with his father and resulted in disownment. I mean, that's not easy for anyone. Though I wonder if his family lost their land before or after; Ralph left. I don't think I would be able to choose to learn Ralph's story or Guy's. They're both interesting characters.

Brianna Sedillo


A confession  – I’ve completely forgotten that book and I’d need to re-read it to make any sensible comment. I do remember writing a character called Ralph Vexille, but beyond that? Nothing! Sorry to be so useless!


Dear Bernard

Regards the American Civil War I always wondered what your thoughts were of "little" Phil Sheridan and his ability as a General. In the recent news with what happened in DC there was a guy photographed with a Confederate flag in the Capital and of course the closest they got was Lee's bad old man Jubal Earlys Army to Fort Stevenson. The only other time of course was the British in 1814. I wondered if you were ever tempted to write about either incident in the future whether with Starbuck and Early or Sharpe with Ross ?



P.S if you've not read it then The Man Who Captured Washington by John McCavitt and Christopher George is a good military biography on Robert Ross. Wellington obviously held him in high esteem and it seems he was a very mild mannered and humane man



I confess I know next to nothing about Phil Sheridan, but do have a high opinion of Ross. He was a gentleman and a fine soldier. I didn’t know of the book The Man Who Captured Washington, but I’ll buy a copy – and can recommend When Britain Burned the White House by Peter Snow which, I suspect, tells the same story. I’ve been tempted by that tale, but so far have resisted the temptation!


In your Writing Advice article, you mentioned how you disassembled several books, making large colored charts to show what was happening paragraph by paragraph. Items included action, dialogue, background info, etc.


If you were to do this exercise again, what other items would you include in the charts, if any?


Thank you.




Oh, I did all that forty years ago and counting, and happily I probably won’t ever have to do it again. The one thing I did note was the incidence of ‘flashback’ which is a device I dislike intensely and use as little as possible. I suppose I was disassembling the mousetrap? They say that if you want to build a better mousetrap you first have to dissect all the existing traps on the market to discover how they work, and I was trying to discover how authors made their novels work. It was a crutch, and it worked for me, but it was all so long ago that I’ve forgotten what specific lessons I learned from that exercise.


Sir Bernard,

I read your books and I became a big fan of your books sir, thank you very much!  I have a question and wanted to share it with you.  in a Derfel vs. Uhtred battle both at the height of their lives who would win that 1x1 battle in your opinion?  big hug take care!  here in Brazil book 12 of the Saxon chronicles just arrived and I'm reading!

Artur Pedroso


They're as good as each other, which is all you'll get from me!


Dear Mr. Cornwell,


First off, congratulations on finishing up The Saxon Stories! It was bittersweet reading the last book, so I can only imagine how you must have felt writing it. I greatly enjoyed the way you wrapped things up for Uhtred (and Finan).


My dad and I have been fans since the first book came out, and after 16 years I've decided to surprise him with a trip to England to see Bebbanburgh in person. We live across the pond, so it's a bit of a journey. I'm looking to add some historical stops to our trip, in addition to Bamburgh Castle; any suggestions?



Ryan McCormick


You might as well explore the old kingdom of Northumbria! There’s a lot to see there and it’s magnificent countryside. So do visit York, where there’s a splendid Viking museum, and add Durham to the trip. There are plenty of other magnificent castles in the region – Alnwick is well worth a visit, and make sure you treat your father to decent ale in the pubs!



I’m a tremendous fan, and I can’t wait for the next Sharpe!


Because I know you are a student of Shakespeare, I wanted to share one of the lectures I remember from college. It goes like this: part of Shakespeare’s genius was casting the wrong character for the unique problems they faced in the play. For example, if you take pensive, contemplative Hamlet (or Brutus) out of his play and drop him into Othello, he would have smoked out Iago’s schemes and we wouldn’t have a tragic ending. But take decisive and vengeful Othello (or Hotspur) and put him Hamlet, and we have an action adventure story where the prince never doubts the Ghost and instead seeks vengeance against Claudius. It’s been a fun mental exercise ever since: swap the characters (with all of their flaws and strengths) and see what happens!  And so I found myself wondering the same thing about Uhtred and Sharpe. If Uhtred was in Sharpe, on account of his status, he likely would have been a senior officer. Maybe he would have been someone like Black Bob Crauford?  I’d like to think he wouldn’t be some braggart cavalry officer charging into the guns.


I can’t recall which of your books it was where you acknowledge the point, but I remember there’s one where Sharpe realized that in Napoleon’s army, he might have wound up a flag officer.


So my question is this: if Uhtred (Alfred Lord Bamburgh?) was born in the late 18th century, and found himself in Spain, would he and Sharpe have become friends and allies or would they end up killing one another?


Can’t wait for the next book!



I think there’d be mutual respect, if not outright friendship. Certainly allies!



Good morning Bernard,

I am attempting to delve into the history of a Saxon manor in Gargrave North Yorkshire. What I have discovered so far is the the Lord of the manor was Gamal son of (C)Karli, who in turn was the son of Thurbrand the Hold, the feller that, at the behest of King Cnut assassinated Uhtred the Bold. I have managed to piece together the chan of killings down to what appears to be the last act which took place at Settringham in 1073. Trouble is, I am no historian and I have no idea where to keep looking. I was intrigued by the similarities of events that take place in your book The Last Kingdom, which actually stimulated my interest in the swampy field that is all that is left of Gamal's manor house. Would it be too much for me to as if you have any suggestions as to where to find out more?


Best regards,



I know that Richard Fletcher mentions Thurbrand in his book Bloodfeud, Murder and Revenge in Anglo-Saxon England, which is a tale of the then Uhtred’s betrayal and death, I’d suggest starting with that book and following whatever he suggested in the bibliography. It might be difficult finding a copy of Bloodfeud – it was published by the Penguin Press in 2002, but there will be a copy on!


Hi there,

Have you any plans to write about Sharpe's transfer to the 95th and his subsequent training?

Paul Rosson


It's not likely.....having taken Sharpe backwards in time once I'm not inclined to do it again,


Will there be one more Richard Sharpe book in the series?  It seems there should be one more just before Sharpe's Rifles.

Mitch Roemer


Hi Mr. Cornwell.

I am a long time fan, who's read everything of yours at the very least once. Having just finished War Lord (twice over), I am curious to know what you will do next? If you can't divulge anything yet, just know one is anxiously awaiting whatever it may be.

Thanks for all the great stories.




At least one more....and I'm writing it now.