Mr. Cornwell, I have enjoyed your historical novels immensely. I recently read the Brigadier Gerard stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and was struck by the similar situation in one of the stories to the band of deserters in Sharpe’s Enemy. I was wondering whether Doyle’s Brigadier Gerard inspired any of your French characters? It would be interesting if he made a cameo appearance in one of your Sharpe novels. JNR

Sir, At the tender age of 13, in 1970, I discovered the Napoleonic wars through the adventures of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Brigadier Gerard. Churchill was right to say that these stories and not those of the Holmes and Watson may be Doyle’s finest. Since that time I have enjoyed the many wonderful books about this period. From Doyle i moved to Forester, Kent, O’Brien and many others as well as enjoying the source works of Napier, Marbot and those who were actually part of that epic time. My degree in and life-long love of history no doubt owes much to the under-recognized historical novels of Doyle and so many others that have followed his trail. When i first discovered your books in the late 1980’s (during a trip to Canada), Richard Sharp was immediatly added to the ranks of Etienne Gerard, Horatio Hornblower and all the great characters that bring the Napoleonic warrior to life. I am pleased to say that the complete works of Cornwall (even your early sailing stories), sit as equals in my library with my collections of Doyle, Forester and O’Brien. Please forgive this long-winded preamble but it seemed necessary in order to set the stage for my question. I just finished ‘Sharp’s Escape’ and was delighted to see the name of Matthew Dodd appear. Is this the first time you have included a character from another author in the Sharp series? I cannot recall another example. Can we expect Sharp to encounter any other such characters in future? i can only imagine how Sharp and Gerard might see each other were they to cross paths. I am also curious as to when you first encountered Brigadier Gerard and what influence these stories and Doyle’s other historical works have had on your writing. Thank you for the many hours of pleasure you have provided this reader and my very best to you in all your future efforts. Douglas Breithaupt Port Townsend, Washington