Your Questions

Q

Trust you're well Can you clear up the question of the 7 barrelled gun which Harper carries through the series,which was a gift from Sharpe to Harper (1) Was it the same gun which the Marine sargeant uses in Sharpe's Trafalger which Sharpe admires (after all theft from the work place is rife!) (2) Is the actual gift of the gun recorded in print as i've read all the books and the gun just seems to appear. Andy Houghton

A

It's not the same gun, no . . . but obviously that's how Sharpe becomes aware of the gun, and the gift happens between books, so to speak.


Q

I look forward to new book from you any time, but book release in January? Did you piss off your publisher? Aren't you going to be missing Christmas purchases? Chris Purple

A

Well, there you go! Not much I can do about it.


Q

DearBernard Cornwell Uhtred is a great character and I look forward to seeing how he fares in future, although at least we know that he survived to old age. I was intrigued by your choice of the first person rather than the third person that you usually use. Its very appropriate for a heroic Saxon narrative. Was this conscious or instinctive? Im also impressed by the way you adapt your language to evoke the period about which you are writing. For example, Thomas of Hookton, Rider Sandman and Uhtreds narratives as well as their dialogue all sound quite different. While you could steep yourself in the writing of later periods (eg Jane Austen or James Hardy Vaux), this is hard to do with the Saxon period, except for Beowulf. How do you do it? Or is it instinctive (again)? Incidentally, did you know that in about 1971, a ballad opera about James Hardy Vaux was created and performed in Sydney? Unfortunately I didnt see it. Uhtreds story has special relevance to me because I have been researching some of my family history in the Somerset Levels where Alfred supposedly burnt the cakes. I visited there last year and it was great to have this area recreated so vividly as the marsh it was before it was drained. I wish I had read your books before I went. The family name is a variant of Warburton, after the town in Cheshire near Liverpool and Manchester, so naturally I visited it. The little church of St Werburgh, which probably gives the town its name, is well worth a visit. Most internet sites date it at 1400 or a bit earlier, however I believe it may date back to 1100. As the place may have a connection with Aethelflaed, and is right on the border between Mercia and the Danelaw, on the banks of the now dry Mersey, near an old ford, I thought you might be interested to hear something about it. I can just imagine Aethelflaed and Uhtred there!! St Werburgh was a Mercian princess and nun from the 700s who established several religious communities throughout England and performed miracles to do with geese. She must have been sanctified not long after her death, possibly because of her family connections. Aethelflaed placed St Werburghs relics in various locations along the border with the Danes as a protective measure, which seems to have worked(!). Chester Cathedral (where St Werburghs shrine can still be seen) was originally dedicated to her and St Osric, so she was clearly important at the time. St Werburghs church may be as much as a thousand years old and is one of only 27 surviving timber-framed parish churches in England. Inside, roughly shaped timber uprights divide the aisles and support the roof beams, still looking very much like the tree-trunks they once were. While the interior is entirely of timber, the exterior walls have been rebuilt at various times, in stone in 1645, then some in brick in 1711, when the tower and the little hearse house were added. (Churches Conservation Trust website) Some limited evidence has been found of activity on the site of Warburton dating from the Bronze Age, through the Iron Age and Roman periods. The first documented evidence of a settlement called Warburgetune (Warburton) occurs in the Domesday Survey of 1086, and recorded were 2 manors but no church. (Wikipedia) It has been suggested that Warburton was the site of an Anglo-Saxon burgh or defended settlement, called Weard byrig, established by Aethelflaed, Queen of the Mercians, in 915AD during the wars with the Vikings, though this may not be correct. (Wikipedia) There is evidence of a nearby monastery, which may have been dedicated to St Werburgh with an associated farm. When I visited the church, I was lucky enough to find one of the archaeologists from Manchester University on site, supervising some repairs to the one of the church walls. Among other things, he mentioned that because the churchyard is round this indicates that it predates Christianity. The yew trees in the churchyard are probably 800 years old or more and the trees which form the interior structure of the church (cruck-beam construction) were 300 years old when felled. Even if the church in its present form wasnt there when Uhtred and Athaelflaed were around, the trees definitely would have been. The name Werburgh is popularly said to mean Faith Fortress. An email colleague of mine thinks this is a retrospective, mediaeval derivation. '"Wer" probably originally comes from Anglo-Saxon "waer," meaning warrior or champion. Thus her name probably meant "Battle-Champion," or "Battle Fortress" and later hagiographers in the 9th-11th centuries provided the specious folk etymology of "Faith Fortress." ' I hope you find this of some interest, and I apologise for the length of the message. Elizabeth Smith

A

Don't apologise! Fascinating stuff, and thank you, and I've no doubt it will all get worked into some future novel. So Werburgh preformed miracles to do with geese, eh? I love that kind of stuff. You'd have thought she could have found plenty of sick folk around, but she mucks up geese instead! So thank you - it all goes into the mill. I wish I'd known about the Sydney production . . . . . alas. Not sure what the answer is to your kind words about the differeing styles . . . it is surely instinctive, and comes, I suppose, from immersion in research material. As for the decision to go with the first person, that again is instinctive, but it worked for me (I thought) on the Arthurian trilogy, so it seemed worth trying again.


Q

first I would like to say bravo on your books they are wonderfull.and I was wondering if the saxon buttons you mention in Exalibur have any basis in reality and if so do you have a reference I could look up? Leigh Matthews

A

I don't. I do have a Saxon button framed on my study wall - it was excavated in Wiltshire. So my source is a little gold button showing a bearded man . . not helpful to you . . . but, hold on, just remembered . . try Dress in Anglo-Saxon England by Gale R. Owen-Crocker - published by the Boydell Press (UK) in 2004. I haven't read all the book, so don't know if she mentions buttons, but I do have one on my wall!


Q

Mr. Cornwell, for me, nothing tops Sharpe and his fellow, but Uhtred is catching up! Thanks for the Saxon Series... we're looking forward to "Lords" in the States in January. Now, a question -- In the last year or so, you seemed to suggest in answer to readers' questions that you are working on a book with a new focus--not Sharpe, Uhtred or the others. True? If so, when do we hear more? When might it come out? Thanks for years of great stories! Jeff

A

Not yet! Right now I'm writing Uhtred's fourth, and that won't be finished until the New Year so I'm not thinking too hard about what will follow. I'd really like to do a Gallows Thief follow up, but probably won't. Lots of people would like me to go back to Starbuck, but I suspect he'll slumber on, I don't think it'll be Sharpe. I am intrigued by Agincourt, so that's a very strong probability. But I need to write this one first!


Q

Dear Bernard, Why is war such fun? And so absorbing, and appealing and endlessly engaging? The intial question there was thrown at me recently by my girlfriend's 7-year-old nephew, and I must admit, despite my academic learning, my grand theories, my adulthood cleverness, I was genuinely at a loss as to how to address the wonderment of this 7-year-old boy. I ducked it, and quickly brought up hurling (an Irish sport). What would you have said to him? (Give us a hint, because he'll no doubt ask it again, the brat). Paul from Ireland

A

What a good question!! Ho ho. I'm probably going to be accused of sexism in a moment, but what the hell. Most women (not all) seem to take the view that war is utterly and always reprehensible, and they're probably right, but men are much more ambivalent. So. Risk? Excitement? Gadgets? Read a book like Why Men Don't Iron by Anne and Bill Moir and you get an answer. Men, it seems, are far more easily bored than women and take risks to spice up their life (which is why so many young men die in accidents). War is the ultimate risk, and is therefore catnip. Then there's the whole testosterone thing . . . . king of the castle . . . we're better than you, yayayaya, and war, even more than sport, feeds the competitive instinct in men. And, of course, it heightens all our perceptions. Life is never so vivid as when lived in a war zone. This is a horribly brief answer, and there are other avenues to explore, such as the probability that war (or at least fighting) is in our DNA. We are, after all, animals, and like all animals we fight for food, territory, shelter and sex. OK, so we should know better, but the limbic brain can't always be over-ridden. And, with all its horrors, all its tragedy, all its dreadful effects, war retains glamour. To me part of the fascination is that war allows men (and women) to throw off the legal and moral restraints that make civilised life possible . . . and that throws up the question of what men (and women) do with that freedom. Some abuse it foully (Abu Graib), but others find a way through the foul rag and bone shop of the heart (back to Eire!). But . . . . . teach him hurling (isn't that war, anyway?)


Q

Reading through your questions and answers section you say repeatedly youd like to see your other books made into films but you say youre not a filmmaker so its not down to you. My question is how much did you know about the Sharpe scripts before they were made? I know that before his tragic death, David Gemmell had been approached a few times with scripts of legend but turned them away because they were rubbish and Terry Goodkind has finally decided on a TV series rather than a film. If someone were to say I want to make an Uthred film' would say Id like to see a script and then give it the green light or would you just say go for it? Ben

A

Go for it! They know their business, and I don't know their business. If I object to a script then I'm putting an obstacle in the way of the film-maker, and that's not sensible! So - do what they like!


Q

Hello, just wanted to say that I am very much enjoying reading your books. I have been through the warlord chronicles and am halfway through The Pale Horseman. I just have a quick question - how do you pronounce the name "Aelle" (and also "Uhtred")? Thank you for your time, Kathleen

A

Aelle - Ay (rhyme with bay) - ella
Uhtred - U - tred


Q

I loved your book Stonhenge! The historical references woven into the story did not only animate the characters and the period, but was journey into the origns of religion and societies. The contemplations of you vivid accounts are still streaming through my mind. Thank you for your time in research and creativity. I heard there is a movie based on your novel, what do you think of it? Marge Calhoun

A

I'm sorry, you must have heard wrong - there is no film based on my book Stonghenge.


Q

We were pleased to see the favorable review of "Sharpe's Fury" in the October 15, 2006 Boston Globe Books section liked the observation about your "infectious enthusiasm" in depicting the battle at Barrosa, as well as Sharpe's carrying out his secret mission and flattening fiendish plotters with "great gusto" and pleased, too, to see the interview with you a week later in the same paper (Boston Globe Books section, October 22, 2006). Will you post perhaps adding back the deleted expletive regarding Napoleon? We're having a difference of opinion in our household about what that might be. All good wishes, Nancy Nemon

A

I didn't see either the review or the interview! Indeed, till I read your question, I didn't know there had been a review! So am not sure what expletive they deleted, but usually when I think of Napoleon the immediate word-association is 'shit'. So it was probably that, but if you want a definitive answer then perhaps you'd best send me the context!


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