Your Questions

Q

Dear Bernard, Whilst browsing through Hatchards website I noticed that you are due to appear there on the 4th of October to sign copies of your new book the Pale Horseman. Can you confirm that this is correct and whether this will form part of a UK book tour? Apologies if this appears premature, however, I have enjoyed your booksignings in the past and want to ensure that I don't miss out. Many thanks and best wishes, Steven

A

It probably means I am. At this stage I don't know the schedule, but we'll be sure to post it once we get the details.


Q

Hello Mr Cornwell- I'm a big fan of your Sharpe books and an currently reading The Last Kingdom- also excellent. Anyway have you ever considered writing about how Sharpe gets conscripted into army by Hakeswill(who I believe you mentioned in Sharpe's Tiger was the man who signed him up?) back in London before Sharpe's Tiger? Could make a interesting book/study as you like writing about Hakeswill!! Yours Richard L, Shropshire UK

A

I think not as I'm disinclined to take Sharpe back in time again - but who knows? Never say never.


Q

Hi One time you commented that you learned alot from John Keegan's face of Battle. I went out and read it, and then I read several more of his histories which I found absolutelty engrossing, especially The History of Warfare. Keegan analyzes narratives of battle in the Face of Battle, has he ever commented on your stories? Thanks for keeping up this site - it is a pleasure to read. James

A

Not that I know of. He is good, isn't he?


Q

I'm just reading The Last Kingdom, obtained at Costco. I bought the book because I recognized the Viking ships, of course, but looking inside saw the names Alfred the Great, Ragnar Lodbrok, King Aella, and so on. Now I've gotten to to p. 62 and see Ivar the Boneless.!! These people are all our ancestors!!! How did you find all this info on them??? I have a cousin who has recently compiled all our genealogy from these people, and they are all included!!! I'll gladly share my info with you, if you'll tell me how you learned all these details to write these great novels!!! Margaret Carole Bendler Jacob

A

Thanks for your nice comments! There are all sorts of places where you can find out about these folk, though much of the information is shrouded in mystery. We know most about King Alfred because he wrote himself, and had his biography written in his lifetime by Bishop Asser. The quickest resources, which will lead you onto other books, are The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo Saxon England and, for the Vikings, I'd recommend John Haywood's Encyclopaedia of the Viking Age. The snag here being that both were published in Britain and I can't say offhand whether they were also published in the States. I have their genealogies too - I wonder if they're the same as your cousin's - they're all in A Biographical Dictionary of Dark Age Britain, 500 - 1050. Guess where that book was published too! Thanks.


Q

Dear Bernard, First thanks for all your wonderful books, I am literally counting down the days until 'The Pale Horseman' is released. Now a question or two (sorry!). Which battle fought during the Napoleonic wars was the most significant/crucial for the British and allies (especially out of Trafalgar and Waterloo)? Which one did you like writing about? Thanks for your time and keep up the great work!! Thanks, Ben.

A

I suppose the crucial one was Trafalgar, because it virtually guaranteed that Britain could not be defeated by France. I'm not sure which battle I most enjoyed writing about - I think I'm equally fond of Trafalgar and Waterloo.


Q

Dear Mr. Cornwell. I recently saw the movie The Four Feathers, and during the opening credits it states that the white feather was a symbol of cowardice in the British Army. Would you happen to know when/why this was started? Was this also true during Sharpe's era? Thanks, and I also want to state that I enjoy ALL of your books, especially the Arthur trilogy.
Axel

A

I suspect it was. I've never thought about it, but Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable says that the saying comes from cock-fighting, and that when a gamebird has had enough and wants out of the fight it raises the hackle feathers on its neck which are fringed with white - so it's showing a surrender flag, and thus the saying. I've no idea if that's true, but it sounds convincing.


Q

Loved your Arthur books as I said before in previous letter. Are there any plans for a book or series about the roman invasion/occupation of Britain? It's rarely talked about in historical fiction genre, at least in a good way. Also which of the rebellious kings (as well as other character in the series) in the Winter King are based on real historical characters. Because all I have found on Gundleus and Gorfyddyd are christian saints when ever I google their names. Thanks. Scott Stamper

A

The names are real - but almost nothing is known about these people. And early regal lists are hopelessly unreliable. And if you google them you will probably be stymied that the spellings differ so enormously. I just tried Guthred, a 9th century king of York, and came up empty, but eventually tracked him down under Guthfrith.

Roman invasion? I don't know - maybe someday? But not anytime soon.


Q

Bernard, I am aware from your excellent Sharpe books that both Richard Sharpe and his trusty sidekick Harper were both over six feet tall. How tall was the average foot soldier in the early nineteenth century? I am sure that I read somewhere that the average soldier was only 5' 6" tall during WWI. Mitch, Liverpool

A

I think the average height was about 5' 4" or 5' 5", though the Highland regiments were supposedly a bit taller.


Q

Hello Mr. Cornwell, I wrote to you before with a rather stupid question but I've been wondering this for a while now and wanted to know: If Sharpe was a real character and everything that you've written about him was true, then would he be one of Britain's great historic heroes and we would have heard of him or would he just be another brave soldier in the Napoleonic wars? Considering that he did save Lord Wellingtons life, survived the war with India and France, managed to take an eagle and rose from the ranks! P.S. Look forward to your reply, I think your work is unbelievably brilliant and can't wait to read more. Carrie Overthrow

A

I suspect that the great heroes of history tended to be of high rank - I can think of very few lower rank folk who made the pantheon. There was no newspaper coverage of the Napoleonic Wars other than reprinting the general's despatches, and even then only when there was a victory to be announced. Wellington disapproved of men like Sharpe, so he was unlikely to mention him in despatches. Sharpe would doubtless have been notorious inside the army, but that reputation is most unlikely to spread beyond unless and until he held high enough rank to send his own (immodest) despatches.


Q

I recently began reading the Sharpe series in chronological order and am currently enjoying 'Sharpe's regiment'. First my congratulations on a wonderfully satisfying series. As a Christian I have to love / forgive my enemies until judgement day but in fantasy enjoy the instant, usually well deserved punishment the soldier pro exacts. I decided to buy the dvd series and note the 'Hong Kong' pirates have been busy copying them. What do you think about that? Thanks for hours of reading enjoyment ... Tony

A

I suppose it's quite flattering! I don't approve, naturally, but there's not a whole lot my disapproval achieves.


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