Your Questions


Hi Bernard

Firstly I would just like to say I'm a huge fan of your books, especially the Saxon Stories, and cannot wait to delve into Uhtred's next adventure.

I've noticed that you seem to utilise a simpler syntactic structure in the Saxon Stories than you do in your other work, with shorter, more succinct sentences. I've often wondered whether this is a conscious decision to emulate the Old English language, especially as the story is written from Uhtred's perspective in the first-person?

Also, I wondered whether you watched Michael Wood's excellent series on King Alfred and the Anglo Saxons? I believe one of Uhtred's descendants got a mention as the Earl of Northumbria during Athelstan's reign!




I can’t say it’s deliberate, but I do have Anglo-Saxon constructions loitering at the back of my mind when I write the Uhtred books, so I guess you’re right and it shows? Thank you!


No, I haven't seen it.


I realize we have progressed a long way since a noted Canadian novelist said,"I've finished except for the O.S.S." He explained that meant Obligatory Sex Scene. However, I noticed more attention was paid to the details of slashing and hacking than Sex. Frida produced a dead baby almost as an afterthought and Mildrid became pregnant almost like the Virgin Mary. Why the reticence?
Paul Jones


Reticence? I’m not reticent, I just don’t see the need for graphic or even mild sex scenes!  Far from being obligatory they should only happen if they advance the story, and I make the generous assumption that the vast majority of my readers know all about sex but maybe not a lot about shield walls?


Dear Mr Cornwell,

Love your books. Read the Grail Quest three and all the Sharpes, and now swimming through Uhtred's stories. (I think he's my favorite of your protagonists, but that might be memory's trick.)

I do think you're a bit unfair to Christianity in your works. For every good churchman, you show us twenty bad ones. That goes along with fashionable culture as far back as Somerset Maugham's story about the priggish southseas missionary in The Hills of Kansas, and probably earlier. (Hollywood hasn't portrayed a kindly churchman since The Bells of St. Mary's!) Still, I wish you'd fight the fashion once in a while.

The Ten Commandments were a wonderful step forward for civilization. "Thou shalt not do murder" meant murdering ANYONE. Laws against murder before that were only constrained to one's own tribesmen. Uhtred chooses Wessex because he knows he'll always be a second-class citizen under the Danes, but also because of law, doesn't he? He sneers at Alfred's perpetual lawmaking later in the series, but he chose Wessex for order over the constant viking and chaos of the Danelaw.

Yes, the Christians themselves were often weak and sinful. The reason Ragnar takes it to the monks on Lindisfarena is a good reason. A good Cleric would have condemned them, too! (A pity one didn't pop up just then.)

But they're your books, they're great reads, and I'll continue to buy them.

The scene in Alban's church with Aethelflaed forced to drink dirty water was gripping - I loved Uhtred when he protected her dignity! (And when he threatened Aethelred and pummeled his bullying advisor.) Far-fetched that that bishop would dare strip Alfred's daughter, though! I was waiting for Alfred to get wind of it and replace him with Asser, but alas...

Your historical note on the fictional incident was bad. Sorry, it was bad.

Evangelical Atheists (their reason for being only that misery loves company) love to point to "cruel" injunctions in the Old Testament. Many of these were reforms of actual cruelties in society at the time. "An eye for an eye" sounds cruel today, but what to do with an eye-gouging boy? Too often the answer then was to torture him and his whole family to death.

A suspected adultress made to drink dirty water? And if her thighs and belly swell immediately, she's guilty? I'll bet lots of wives used that to escape beatings and murder. "Bring some dirty water, I'll prove my virtue!" Doesn't sound cruel to me, Mr Cornwell.

Thanks for hours and hours of entertainment!

Yours very truly,


Unfair? Well, why not? The church was an extremely corrupt organization, and that wasn’t entirely its own fault, it was the only route that a person of low-birth could rise to the top of the hierarchy, so naturally it attracted the unscrupulous, the ambitious and the ruthless. As for the ten commandments, well they were hardly the first law code to condemn killing or theft, and as for all that nonsense about coveting and taking names in vain? A step forward? We’ll have to disagree! But I’m glad you noticed I do have some good clerics and nuns, and their goodness shines in an evil world!


Dear Mr. Cornwell,

First let me start by saying how much I enjoyed reading your book, The Fort. Your blending of fact with fiction is so much more interesting to read, and you do it well. I must say, I was lost a few times regarding the nautical references. When  you would refer to all of the various parts of a ship with all of its many sails and such, combined with the sailor's jargon and military references, I felt like I got a crash course on basic seamanship! Haha!  I have a question for you if you don't mind my asking? What happens to James and Bethany Fletcher? I absolutely loved the historical notes at the end, in which you tell what happened to the most famous soldiers/seamen  (Saltonstall, Lovell, Wadsworth, Revere, etc.) but you didn't mention what happened to the Fletchers.  Historically, how did that work out for the rebels who lived in a place like Majabigwaduce, when the British would "win"?  I guess my romantic side was hoping for a bit of a love story mixed in there
somewhere too, possibly between Bethany and Lt. Moore, but I just feel like there wasn't a resolution for the characters who weren't soldiers in the there a sequel that I need to read? Well, I apologize, I'm rambling on, and I see that there is more than one question I've asked of you. I thank you very much for your time and consideration and look forward to hearing your answer.


Angela Sgro,

Tyrone, Pennsylvania, USA


To be honest I don’t know what happened to them!  I suspect they lived happily ever after, but how? Where? With whom? All questions that died on me when the book was finished.  In my mind James would have joined the fight, and Bethany? I don’t know, and sorry, there won’t be a sequel.


Dear Mr. Cornwell

I realized that in one of you replies you mentioned you were back at Waterloo. I don't know whether you meant it literally or not, but if you are actually in Belgium, are you doing any appearance at a book shop or lectures?

Thank you for your time


No, no, I am not in Belgium except in my mind (and on the computer!).



Having just finished the reading of your novel about the famous battle of POITIERS (which is of course, and as you know, one among several battles in this area), I want to write, unfortunately, the great displeasure I had to get through of it.

If I shall not criticize the writing and its achievement, which are undoubtedly extremely well minded, I didn't like the general sense of it and, even if I am alone to write it, I am convinced I must do it.

Why? My expectations were great (I missed to buy the book in PARIS and, finally, after weeks waiting, found it in BORDEAUX) and I read in it a whole charge (if I may say so...) against the french people and its history, in a pathetical moment.

Be sure I take no pride at all of my citizenship, and I am not the last to criticize them, but why all the French (except of course a traitor...) are all integrist, cruel, keen on wine and women?
On the other hand, the British who are alone, as everyone know, to possess the sense of humour, are always brave, pitiful, gallant, even heroic and, as a result, they are always and always winners...
You have, of course absolutely the right to have your own sense of history, but you do not insist very much about the betrayal of the french king, who battled fearless, and, generally, your descriptions are one-sized.

Shall I add, in order o regret it, that your battle scenes are quite sadistic?

For me, alone in your book, will stay your exact and clever evocation of Charles, the
dauphin, who revealed to be one our greatest king (even, at my opinion, one of the worst on an ethical point of view).

With my best regards,

Frédéric Charles


I’m sorry you feel that – but I hoped I was generous in my treatment of the Dauphin (one of the few sensible people at Poitiers), and what’s wrong with being fond of wine and women? We should all be so lucky!



first thanks for taking the time to read this.  Second, as a first time novelist, I am concerned about the possibility of someone (agent, publisher, etc.)  copyrighting my book and then taking "control" of it.  I know most agents, publishers, etc. are not those type of people, but like every profession out there, there are shady individuals that work in that field as well.  And we have all heard some of the horror stories of bands who have lost the rights to their own songs over the years.  Different media, I know, but still makes you cautious. What is your opinion on getting your book copyrighted by the Library of Congress in your name before searching for an agent?  You are the first person I have asked, so I have nothing to compare it to, minus my own concerns, which I mentioned above.  Thanks again for taking the time to read this.  Huge fan, by the way.  Especially the Saxon series.  Too bad that one will have to end eventually.

Erik Kamlay


Don’t bother!  The copyright is yours from the moment you type it, write it or dictate it! I’ve never heard of anyone trying to steal a copyright in the manner you fear – they’d need to destroy your computer records for a start!  I store my unfinished chapters in the ‘cloud’ and I suppose a hacker could get hold of them, but really it’s unlikely!  I think your fears are groundless (hope so, anyway!)


Just been watching BBc " King Alfred and the Anglo saxons" very interesting in  that I`m a passionate fan of your novels - can I assume that Aethelflaed plays a great part in your soon to be released and much anticipated next??
My favourite stuff ( well along with Patrick O`Brian anyway - but sadly no more from him- so you`d better stay well for the foreseeable future !!! )
Best regards
Phil Gregson
Manchester UK


It’s a safe assumption!


Dear Bernard,

Regarding Sharpe’s father: Did this person ever fly a kite (or have been rumored to have)?
Happy person: Yes;
Rogue: Most definitely;
In England at the time of Sharpe’s conception: To my surprise, Yes;
Not and Englishman: Yes, born in Boston, Mass, USA;
Not in the military: Yes;
Never rode a horse: Yes.
The horse in the name thing: Sorry, I have no clue what that is about.

Thank you again for your marvelous writings,
Steve Rose


Regarding Sharpe’s father: Did this person ever fly a kite (or have been rumored to have)?  No idea
Happy person: Yes;  Like the rest of us, at times.
Rogue: Most definitely; Oh yes.
In England at the time of Sharpe’s conception: To my surprise, Yes; Yes.
Not and Englishman: Yes, born in Boston, Mass, USA;   He never went to Boston as far as I know.
Not in the military: Yes;  True
Never rode a horse: Yes. Oh, I’m sure he did
The horse in the name thing: Sorry, I have no clue what that is about. Good try!


Hi Bernard,

I was wondering how an author, such as yourself, chooses to whom they ascribe their work. In the front of (almost) all novels, an author will write someone's name. How do you decide whom that will be? Would you pick anyone simply because they showed an interest in having their name there or is it only reserved for the names of people who helped you in some way or to whom you are close. I suppose it depends on the nature of the novel as well?

Kindest Regards,



They’re almost all friends or family. A couple were dedicated to strangers because they ‘bought’ the dedication at a charity auction, but other than that they’re f and f!