Your Questions

Q

Dear Bernard

You have mentioned that Sharpe became Sean Bean in your mind when writing the character after Sean was cast in the role, as such I was wondering if the same has happened with Uhtred. When writing future books featuring Uhtred do you now picture the actor who portrays Uhtred in the TV series when writing the books? Great books.

Thanks

Phil

A

Not to the same extent!  The factor here being that Alexander (whose portrait of Uhtred is splendid!) is young in the TV series and I’m writing a much older Uhtred.

 


Q

Dear Bernard

You've always been a fan of Robert E Lee and his Generalship but for debates sake could he really be put on the same level as say a Napoleon or Wellington ?. In the 7 Days campaign, he did lose 6 of the 7 battles which seemed down to McClellan deciding to retreat after each one rather than Lee forcing him to. Even after Gettysburg he then lost battles at Bristoe Station and at Rappahonock Station.

JFC Fuller in his book Grant and Lee states that the Lee of Gettysburg was also the same Lee of Cheats Mountain.

Lee could be called a good general but could he really be called a great one ?

Yours sincerely

Geraint

P.s If you've not read it I can recommend Lee's Last Retreat by William Marvel on the Appomattox campaign. Interestingly he puts Lee's Army at 50'000 during the campaign rather than the commonly used 30'000.

 

A

Who knows? They all faced different problems. Would Wellington have been so successful had he been faced with the problems that Lee had to deal with? Lee’s enemies had far greater resources, more men, better weapons (on the whole), yet, until he faced Grant, he ran rings round them. It’s really an impossible question to answer, we’re not comparing like with like. They were all great generals!

 


Q

Dear Mr Cornwell,

Firstly I should say that over the years I have read most of your books and found them very good - although in the most part fiction, they are backed up by sufficient historic fact to be entirely plausible, which adds to their appeal. Clearly you do a great deal of research so I was wondering if there is any historic background to the plot in Sharpe's Enemy.

I ask this as I have recently read many of the books written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and in "The exploits of Brigadier Gerard" there is a story about a disgraced English officer who adopted the name Marshal Millefleurs and led a band of English, French and Portuguese deserters who captured a Spanish Abbey and kidnapped a Spanish Noblewoman. Gerard is sent with a small force to capture the deserters and free the lady and joins with an English officer and his small force who have been sent to do the same thing. Of course, being Gerard he bungles it unlike Sharpe.

There are clearly parallels with your story so I wondered if both yourself and Doyle were basing the stories on a real event?

Cheers

Peter

A

Thank you for that . . . I confess (shamefully) that I’ve not read the Brigadier Gerard stories, but I’m not surprised that Conan Doyle was attracted to that tale. Yes, it is based on true events. I wrote the book so long ago that I’ve forgotten my sources and (forgive me) am too lazy to dig out the notes, but there was a band of deserters in the Spanish hills who made a thorough nuisance of themselves. They were led (if I recall rightly) by a Frenchman, Pot-au-Feu (a nickname, obviously) and included British, Spanish and French soldiers.


Q

Hello Bernard

Firstly thankyou for your Last Kingdom series which have kept me company for the last 8 months or so. Both in paper form and audio. My friend introduced me to them (they have all your books) and I decided to get the audible versions as I drive a lot for work.   Anyway I just wondered if you could use your might and possibly serpentbreath to convince audible to get Jonathan Keeble back to narrate the Flame Bearer.  The change in the narrators they made for the Last Kingdom series spoilt it for me a bit but Jonathan breathed more life into Utrhed and I would like him to be reading to me when he gets to Bebbenberg x  Keep up the good work

Sharon McCubbin

A

I am happy to pass your request along to the powers that be!


Q

Hello Bernard,

I'm curious if you've read the novels by Gary Jennings, and what do you think of them? We are fans who run his website.

Thanks,

Jay

A

I feel guilty – sorry – I haven’t read them (yet)

 


Q

At the end of The Bloody Ground, you said that Starbuck would march again. Has he? Great series, as is Sharpe's and am into Sailing now. Keep up the good work!

Char Veldheer

A

Not yet!


Q

Not sure if my last e-mail ever made it through, but would like to say how much I enjoy your historical fiction.  Though I have always been an avid reader, in the last few years I've discovered audio books, which is how I have become familiar with your writings.  I particularly enjoy your stories of Uhtred of Bebbanburg (please forgive my spelling if incorrect).  I am curious as to why Uhtred is sometimes Uhtred of Bebbanburg, while other times he is Uhtred of Bamburgh.  What is the historical significance of the two titles, and which is the more appropriate?

I am currently listening to 1356 which obviously takes place well after Uhtred's time.  Could you explain what started the 100 Year's War, and why England felt it had the right to press the war in France?  Also, why did the Gascons side with the English?

Having some English ancestry (as well as French, Russian, and Polish), I am fascinated by the many eras in English history (albeit rather violent that they may have been).  I am also perplexed by how many monarchs reigned over England, how they came to power, and in so very many cases how tragically brief their reigns were.  Given the high propensity for being either killed in battle, deposed from head of state, and/or the potential for being beheaded, why would any of them ever want the crown?   I've searched the internet to discover that England has had at least 63 monarchs (Kings, Queens, & Regents) over roughly 1500 years starting with the Saxon King Egbert.  Yet no King Arthur.  Was Arthur purely fictional?  If there was a real Arthur, where in the timeline would he have fit?  And with that in mind, have you any plans on writing about the first king of England, and what led to his crowning.  I would find that quite fascinating.

I am also very interested in the War of the Roses, as many of your readers are, and wonder if you will tackle that era someday.  Finally, since one my favorite movies is Braveheart, could you enlighten your readers more on the real life on Longshanks?  Given his long reign, could he have been as cruel and vicious as Mel Gibson had him portrayed in the movie?

David Gilbert

A

I have no idea?  It's Bebbanburg in the books so I can only assume the reader/producer of the audiobooks prefers Bamburgh?

 

The Kings of England claimed to be the rightful kings of France! Simple as that! And Gascony owed loyalty to England (feudal obligation) and feared being overrun by the French.

 

I suspect that Arthur existed, but doubt he was ever a king . . . though that’s a topic too long to deal with here. He would have been active at the beginning of the 6th Century, after the Romans have left and while the Saxon invasion of Britain is still under way. Why would anyone want the crown? Why would anyone want to be president? Or CEO? Or any position of power? Because power is an aphrodisiac and because men crave power!

 

I’m afraid I’ve never seen the movie, so can’t comment on how accurate the portrayal is. But Edward Longshanks is an alpha male in a brutal mediaeval society so I don’t suppose he was particularly meek and mild.

 

 


Q

Dear Mr. Cornwell,

Thanks for writing Waterloo.On page 216 is mentioned the Rossomme Farm, so sent this to a good friend named Rossomme and part of her response--"there were 9 Rossomme young men who came to the US in the early 1900’s. Two stayed (one of which was my grandfather) and the other 7 went back to Belgium." Would greatly appreciate your pointing me to any reference material on the Rossomme Farm.

thanks,

Hal Shelton

A

I’m afraid I don’t know much! The Rossomme Farm stood south of La Belle Alliance on the main road – I fear the building was destroyed by fire late in the 19th Century so there’s nothing to see there now.  It was Napoleon’s first command post, just south of the farm is a low ridge which is called the Heights of Rossomme where he had a chair and a map-table. The Imperial Guard was posted close to the farm for much of the battle (they were held there in reserve), and after the French rout many of the wounded took shelter in the farm buildings. I’m afraid that’s about all I know and confess I had no idea that the farm was named for a family.


Q

Dear Mr. Cornwell,

firstly may I say how much I have enjoyed your work, in particular the Sharpe series. They have been a constant companion  throughout my teens and twenties.  So thank-you for writing such eloquent and inspiring words and for shaping my imagination and own material.

The question I have regards the violence in your novels. I aspire to be a novelist myself, however I am finding that a great deal of darkness lies within the caverns of my mind, and it greatly worries me whenever I put pen to paper. I am by nature a very sensitive and gentle man, and like you went too Monkton Combe school which has, to a degree, shaped my personality. It worries me greatly how friends and family will react to my work. How do you cope with manifesting violent scenes onto paper? For example your book on Agincourt was particularly gruesome (the detail of stabbing through the gaps in the French knights visors was harrowing).

I apologise for the rather bizarre nature of this message, but I would appreciate how you have dealt with such morbid material.

Kind regards,

Thomas.

A

I’m so pleased Monkton Combe didn’t eradicate the darkness in your mind’s caverns! Novels explore our world and there’s a good deal of darkness there! Plainly the violence distresses you, in which case use the darkness to distress your readers. Remember what Robert E. Lee said – that it is well war is so awful or we should love it too much. You can’t condemn the horrors of war, or of crime or anything else unless you, as a writer, can comprehend and even sympathise with it, so welcome it! I try to dial it back somewhat. My imagination sometimes comes up with passages so graphic that I delete them and put in something less horrifying. I’m sure some readers wish I didn’t, but there it is!


Q

Iceland vs. England….. Clearly Alfred would mourn the upset. But where would Uhtred's loyalties have been?

Richard Reich

 

A

Uhtred never had a fondness for the over-pampered, arrogant, spoiled and privileged. He would have taken great satisfaction from the result.