British author Bernard Cornwell OBE, was born 23 February 1944. Famous for writing Exciting historical fiction, He is best known for his novels about Napoleonic Wars rifleman Richard Sharpe which were adapted into a series of Sharpe television films, starring Sean Bean. 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.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. He then joined the BBC’s Nationwide and was promoted to become 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 green card, he started writing novels, as this did not require a work permit and later became a U.S. citizen.
Cornwell wanted to start the series with the Siege of Badajoz but decided instead to start with a couple of “warm-up” novels. These were Sharpe’s Eagle and Sharpe’s Gold, both published in 1981. Sharpe’s Eagle was picked up by a publisher, and Cornwell got a three-book deal. He went on to tell the story of Badajoz in his third Sharpe novel Sharpe’s Company published in 1982.Cornwell and wife Judy co-wrote a series of novels, published under the pseudonym “Susannah Kells”. These were A Crowning Mercy, published in 1983, Fallen Angels in 1984, and Coat of Arms (aka The Aristocrats) in 1986. (Cornwell’s strict Protestant upbringing informed the background of A Crowning Mercy, which took place during the English Civil War.) He also published Redcoat, an American Revolutionary War novel set in Philadelphia during its 1777 occupation by the British, in 1987.
After publishing eight books in his ongoing Sharpe series, Cornwell was approached by a production company interested in adapting them for television. The producers asked him to write a prequel to give them a starting point to the series. They also requested that the story feature a large role for Spanish characters to secure co-funding from Spain. The result was Sharpe’s Rifles, published in 1987 and a series of Sharpe television films starring Sean Bean. A series of contemporary thrillers with sailing as a background and common themes followed: Wildtrack published in 1988, Sea Lord (aka Killer’s Wake) in 1989, Crackdown in 1990, Stormchild in 1991, and a political thriller called Scoundrel in 1992.
In June 2006, Cornwell was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s 80th Birthday Honours List. Azincourt was released in the UK in October 2008. The protagonist is an archer who participates in the Battle of Agincourt, a devastating defeat suffered by the French during the Hundred Years War. In 2009, he released The Burning Land, another of the six Saxon Stories centered on the protagonist Uhtred of Bebbanburg. The sixth installment of the series, Death Of Kings was released in September 2011. Another of Cornwell’s standalone novels, The Fort, was published in 2010. It tells of the Penobscot Expedition of 1779 during the American Revolutionary War, in which a small British force, sent to what is now Castine in the State of Maine, were assaulted by an army with a huge fleet sent by the State of Massachusetts. Cornwell also published The novel 1356 in 2012, which features protagonist Thomas of Hookton and his company of mercenary archers, who ravage the countryside of Gascony before joining the Black Prince’s army to fight at the Battle of Poitiers, and The Empty Throne in 2012, which is book 8 in the Warrior Chronicles and sees Aethelred Lord of the Mercians dying without an heir, leaving rivals from Wessex and Mercia to contest the rule of Britain, amid the ever present threat of Viking attack.