Your Questions


You covered French Infantry formations when they attack.  What formations did they use in defense?

What were British Infantry attack formations?

Thomas Strode


The French defended in line, just like the British, only their infantry had three ranks as against the British two.  The British infantry attacked in line, usually switching from defence to attack, though if a battalion was being moved from one part of the battlefield to another they would use column, only because it was a better formation for keeping the troops together, but would switch back to line as soon as they reached their destination. French battalions were usually larger than British, but the two deep line gave the British an advantage over the three deep line.



Dear Mr. Cornwell,

I am a high school student who is interested in history. I am a big fan of the Sharpe's Rifles series. Currently I am reading Sharpe's Eagle. In the book you often mention how the Horse Guards need to approve Sharpe's promotion. Why are they in charge of promotions and when did they loose that responsibility?

Thank you,


David P


Because the Horse Guards were the administrative headquarters of the army, and kept the official records of personnel - and laid down the rules which governed promotions.  There had been some corruption (bribes for promotion) and after that was exposed the rules were tightened and regulations  were more rigorously imposed. 


Dear Mr Cornwell,


It has been a while since I have contacted you. Firstly, thank you for Sharpe's Command, great to see him back, it was well written and slotted nicely in the series.


I have just finished Young Bloods - 1st in Simon Scarrows's Wellington/Napoleon quartet. Not sure if you read them, but I am finding them enthralling. I however am finding it a bit like a Sharpe companion (without Sharpe). It is possible (although he does not say It, that we witnessed Sharpe's mother die in the Gordon riots - at least that is all I was thinking about whilst reading It!


Just read about Boxtel  and the gruelling retreat. I knew little about this,  have you ever considered going back in time and writing about that in a 'first Sharpe book' - just a thought.


Keep up the Stirling work


Kind regards




I confess I haven't read Young Bloods, but your message has persuaded me to add it to the 'must read' pile, so thankyou!


Dear Mr. Cornwell,

Is the Rev. William Oughtred, who invented the slide rule and introduced the use of the letter “x” to indicate multiplication, an ancestor of yours?

There is now an Oughtred Society for those who collect slide rules. I wonder what Uhtred might make of this.


Richard Reich


Uhtred would wonder how well The Reverend William could slaughter his enemies. I knew he was credited with the slide-rule (that gene never came near me), but not that he devised the X for multiplication. Nor had I heard of the Oughtred Society.  I had heard that he died of 'joy' on hearing of the King's restoration in 1660, but I suspect that's not true, sadly.  I shall look into the Oughtred Society, but as someone who never understood the function of a slide rule I suspect I'm not qualified to join - but thank you anyway!



Greetings Mr Cornwell,

huge fan of your books! I have just reread your Uhtred novels (again) and wondering if you could ever be tempted to drag him and Benedetta on a pilgrimage to Rome? Uhtred’s lamentations on the marvels left behind by the Romans was such a powerful concept in the stories. Having achieved his life aim (and Alfred’s in the process) it would be great for him to walk amongst the ruins Rome itself. Even another short story if you are missing him?


Can’t wait to see whatever you are currently working on or thinking about working on!


Thank you for everything you have written and for being so approachable despite your workload!


Kind regards,




I'm very tempted. I've long wanted to take a mediaeval character back to Rome, and am half-thinking about another novel with Uhtred - so maybe your suggestion will be the spur! Thank you!


I am currently starting the 3rd book of the trilogy and I’m 99% sure I am reading too much into it but are the injuries sustained by some characters based on Nordic myth? Morgana is half-deformed like Hela, Nimue lost an eye in her quest of knowledge like Odin and Derfel lost a hand like Tyr.


Best Regards,




I'm happy you should be reading too much into it - well done! But I must confess the parallels are accidental - the only one which was deliberate was Nimue's eye - the price of wisdom!



You have been a cultural fixture for three generations of my family. Back in the 80’s my grandfather read your early Sharpe books and listening to him enthusiastically discuss these amazing books with my parents inspired me to start checking them out of my local library at the age of 11. Richard Sharpe has been a fixture in my life through middle school, high school, college, 15 years of marriage and 20 years of military service. To this day, the Sharpe series is regularly discussed at family dinners despite my grandfather passing 25 years ago - he would be thrilled to know that you are still giving us Sharpe adventures. I am currently revisiting all Sharpe series in chronological order and it’s like revisiting an old friend who will always be there for you no matter what! Have you considered revisiting the world of “Gallow’s Thief”? Something about a whole series of Regency Detective stories really tickles my fancy! Heck, maybe Richard Sharpe could stumble his way into the story! In any case THANK YOU for 35 years of entertainment!


- Scott R, BMC USCG (Ret)


I have considered more for Rider Sandman....


Dear Bernard,

Love all of your books but have to say Sharpe is my favourite and the release of Sharpe's Command has prompted me re-read the series in chronological order, something I am thoroughly enjoying! Having said that I do have a soft spot for Nate Starbuck and do hope one day you'll finish his story.

Anyway, my question is on the Sharpe adaptation (which I also love and think Sean Bean is the perfect Sharpe). What were your thoughts on the TV series, did you have any involvement in it? Did you agree with the castings - were there any you thought were totally miscast or in that matter any that were perfectly cast? Did you have any feelings on the changes made (particularly Sharpe's Gold) or the created for TV Sharpe's Mission and justice?  Do you know why Hogan only features in the first 2 episodes when he is quite prominent in most of the books?

Long question, I'm sorry.

Looking forward to your next book - do you know what this might be yet or is that a thought for another day or a secret at the moment.

Kind regards,



I take the view that the less I’m involved the better!  The TV producers know their business (and I don’t know their business) so I let them get on with it and don’t ask questions.  I worked in television long enough to know that I know nothing about producing TV drama, and any input from me is liable to be either a distraction or an obstacle. If they have questions then they can ask me and I’ll answer, but otherwise I leave well alone.

Next book will be another Sharpe!


Do you ever look back on any of your books and wished you'd written them differently?  I personally wished you'd planned your Arthur series so it went on for another 10 books or so!  Why did you limit yourself to just three?  And have you ever been tempted to tell us what happened at the end of the last book.  You've imagined it at least, even if you've not written the tale!

Keep up the good work, I'm loving the Last Kingdom books at the moment!

Dave Tuck


Given a chance I'd rewrite the first third of The Winter King to give it more pace....but  I never anticipate my characters' lives beyond the limits of the books and I have no plans to add to the Warlord Chronicles.


Hello, Mr Cornwell.


I hope this finds you well.


I'm currently reading 1356, and a line caught my attention. It was the chapter where Roland of Verrec is bringing Genevieve to Labrouillade.


When Roland's group encounter some soldiers on the road, they run for an abandoned church tower.

The line states: "Roland arrived at the dark tower".

Is this line a reference to Stephen King's The Dark Tower?


I'm sorry if the names aren't correct, I'm not reading the original in English.


Thanks in advance!




‘Roland to the dark tower came’ was a really a homage to Shakespeare who uses the line in King Lear!  It was then used by Robert Browning in a poem called Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came (which is the exact Shakespearean quote).  So I suspect Stephen King and I both borrowed from one or the other or both.