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Bernard Cornwell, OBE (born 23 February 1944) is an English author of historical novels. He is best known for his novels about Napoleonic Wars rifleman Richard Sharpe which were adapted into a series of Sharpe television films.


Cornwell was born in London in 1944. His father was a Canadian airman, and his mother was English, a member of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. He was adopted and brought up in Thundersley, Essex by the Wiggins family, who were members of the Peculiar People, a strict sect who were pacifists, banned frivolity of all kinds and even medicine. After he left them, he changed his name to his mother's maiden name, Cornwell.
Cornwell was sent to Monkton Combe School. He attended the University of London, and after graduating, worked as a teacher. He attempted to enlist in the British armed services at least three times, but was rejected on the grounds of myopia.
Following his work as teacher, Cornwell joined the BBC's Nationwide and was later promoted to head of current affairs at BBC Northern Ireland. He then joined Thames Television as editor of Thames News. He relocated to the United States in 1979 after marrying an American. Unable to get a United States Permanent Resident Card (green card), he started writing novels, as this did not require a work permit. He later became a U.S. citizen. He currently resides on Cape Cod in Massachusetts and in Charleston, SC.
As a child, Cornwell loved the novels of C. S. Forester, chronicling the adventures of fictional British naval officer Horatio Hornblower during the Napoleonic Wars, and was surprised to find that there were no such novels following Lord Wellington's campaign on land. Motivated by the need to support himself in the U.S. through writing, Cornwell decided to write such a series. He named his chief protagonist Richard Sharpe, a rifleman involved in most of the major battles of the Peninsular War. Cornwell took the name from rugby player Richard Sharp.
Cornwell wanted to

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Bernard Cornwell Latest News

How Bernard Cornwell sought inspiration from his own family history for Viking drama The Last Kingdom

But for the odd twist of history, Bernard Cornwell could have been the Lord of Bamburgh Castle, that high and haughty Northumberland fortress that juts bleakly out into the North Sea as formidably as it towers over his Saxon novels. His father, it seems ...
Posted: October 22, 2015, 5:16 am

Bernard Cornwell's '1356' search for lost sword requires strong stomach

All in all, the Middle Ages in Europe was lousy living for most people. Pick up "1356" by prolific author Bernard Cornwell and you'll see. Be warned: You'll need a strong stomach to read about the period. The pragmatic hero, Thomas of Hookton, is ordered ...
Posted: January 16, 2013, 10:00 pm

The Paganism of Bernard Cornwell

I am a huge fan of Bernard Cornwell, and was thrilled to finally sit down and read his latest: Death of Kings. Part of his Saxon Tales saga, it is a ripping good historical novel set as Alfred the Great is dying. I could wax rhapsodic about how accurate ...
Posted: August 9, 2012, 5:00 pm
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