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Creator: Bernard Cornwell
If your History teacher wrote novels.
Bernard Cornwell (1944 - ) is a British author of Historical Fiction, often about adventures in wartime.

He is most famous for the Sharpe novels, chiefly set during the Napoleonic Wars, which were adapted into a television movie series starring Sean Bean as Richard Sharpe.

Cornwell was adopted as a child by a strict Christian sect. He came to break all ties with them and took his mother's maiden name.

He worked for the BBC and other broadcast news media before becoming a novelist. He started writing fiction because he'd moved to the United States with his American wife and he couldn't get a Green Card at the time - writing required no work permits. (He's a U.S. citizen now.)

Cornwell was inspired by the Horatio Hornblower naval novels of C.S. Forester and decided to write stuff like that about the army. His first novel, Sharpe's Eagle, was published in 1981 and the rest is history. Two decades later, he's still at it, and has helped inspire other contemporary authors of historical fiction.

In 2005 he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire "for his services to literature and furtherance of British culture abroad."

Has a personal website with an active Q&A and bulletin board.


Works by Cornwell include:

These and other works provide examples of:

  • Anglo-Saxons: Antagonists in The Warlord Chronicles, protagonists in The Saxon Stories.
  • Author Appeal: Aside from the war stuff, Cornwell has also written contemporary thrillers revolving around sailing - the only non-historical fiction stuff he's done. He's an avid sailor and owns his own boat.
  • Badass
    • Badass Crew: Most prominently Sharpe's Rifles, but his other heroes also tend to get their own crews.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Since his novels are usually set around historical battles, like Waterloo or Agincourt, and his protagonists tend to be military types.
  • The Cavalier Years
  • Corrupt Church: Mainly as an institution, but also individual clergy and lay people, though there are decent ones too. Gets more noticeable with later-written works. Justified whenever he's writing about the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, as even the modern Catholics admit they were incredibly corrupt.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: A given considering historical fiction. In his first Saxon book, the protagonist (a Norseman) recalls raping women after raids.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Several.
    • Those featured in the Sharpe books include The Duke of Wellington, Napoleon Bonaparte, Horatio Nelson and Thomas Cochrane.
    • The Saxon Stories feature Alfred the Great of England. The protagonist Uhtred is named after a real Uhtred of Bebbanburg who Cornwell claims to be descended from.
    • The Grail Quest series has Edward III of England and his son Edward the Black Prince.
    • Azincourt has Henry V of England. The protagonist Nicholas Hook is named after a real archer from the English muster rolls for the Battle of Agincourt. Boisterous Bruiser Sir John Cornewaille is also real, but Cornwell denies any relation.
    • Derfel in The Warlord Chronicles is based on a possibly legendary saint by that name. The Saxon pioneer leaders in Britain like Aelle and Cerdic also feature.
  • The Late Middle Ages
  • The Low Middle Ages / The Dark Ages
  • The McGuffin: The Holy Banner of Santiago, the oriflamme flag dating from the Reconquest, which is to be used as a symbolic rallying point for Spanish resistance to Napoleon. Everybody wants it - except Sharpe.
  • Market-Based Title:
    • The first book in the Grail Quest trilogy, Harlequin, became The Archer's Tale for the US market because of the Harlequin Romance line.
    • Azincourt (the original French name for the place) became Agincourt (how it's known in the English-speaking world) for the US market.
  • One Million BC
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits
  • Rated M for Manly
  • Shout-Out: Both to Cornwell's own work and to others.
    • The Starbuck Chronicles features Sharpe's adult son.
    • Thomas of Hookton from the Grail Quest series is mentioned in Azincourt as having died prosperous, "a lord of a thousand acres".
    • The protagonist of Gallows Thief is a retired cavalryman who was once saved by a Rifle officer and his men.
    • Rifleman Dodd is Sharpe's Escape is meant to be Matthew Dodd from Deathtothe French (itself better known as Rifleman Dodd'' to Americans) by C.S. Forester.
    • Richard Sharpe is named after a rugby player.
  • War Is Glorious
  • War Is Hell
  • Wooden Ships and Iron Men: Whenever Sharpe gets on a boat.


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