Biography of Bernard Cornwell: English-American author Bernard Cornwell is an author of historical novels. He is popular for his novels about Napoleonic Wars rifleman Richard Sharpe. Cornwell has also written a series of 13 novels, The Saxon Stories regarding King Alfred and the making of England. One feature of his historical novels is they end with a note on how they differ or match with history, and what is something one might see at the described sites. Let’s read more about the life and career of Bernard Cornwell.

Early Life and Career

Bernard Cornwell was born on 23 February 1944 in London. His father William Oughtred was a Canadian airman and his mother was Englishwoman Dorothy Cornwell. His mother was a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. Cornwell was adopted and brought by the Wiggins family in Thundersley, Essex. After his adoptive father died, he changed his last name to his mother’s maiden name Cornwell. He met his mother for the first time when was 58. Cornwell is a descendant of Uhtred the Bold upon whom he based the Last Kingdom book series.

Biography of Bernard Cornwell | Life and Career
Biography of Bernard Cornwell | Life and Career

He was sent to Monkton Combe School in Somerset. Between 1963 and 1966 he read history at University College London. Cornwell worked as a teacher after graduating. He attempted to join the British armed service at least three times but was rejected on the grounds of myopia. After his job as a teacher, he joined the BBC’s Nationwide and he was later elevated to head of current affairs at BBC Northern Ireland. He then joined Thames Television as an editor of Thames News. His first marriage ended in divorce and he married his second wife Judy in 1979. Initially, he was unable to get the US Resident cad which he later received. He began writing novels as they did not require any kind of work permit.

In his childhood, he loved the novels of C. S. Forester. He and his wife co-wrote a series of novels: A Crowning Mercy (1983), Fallen Angels (1984), and Coat of Arms (1986). Cornwell’s strict Protestant upbringing background of A Crowning Mercy takes place during the English Civil War. In 1987 he published Redcoat, an American Revolutionary War novel set in Philadelphia during the 1777 occupation by the British. Some of his other standalone novels are Stonehenge (1999), Gallows Thief (2001), Agincourt (2008), and The Fort (2010). His novel series include Sharpe Stories, Warlord Chronicles, Grail Quest novels, Saxon Stories/ The Last Kingdom, Starbuck Chronicles, and Thriller series. In September 2014, he published his non-fiction work Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles.

Saxon Stories/The Last Kingdom

The series follows the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, England during the reign of Alfred the Greta in the 9th century. It focuses on Alfred’s determination to unite England as one country and his violent contradiction with the Danes. The concepts came to his mind after meeting his real father in Canada in his fifties and getting familiar with his ancestry back in the era, to Uhtred of Bebbanburg who became Uhtred, the main character of Cornwell’s series. Bernard realized that most people are unfamiliar with how England came to be, rather than say, Dane-land. The first novel of this series was published in 2004. It continues after the demise of Alfred the Great, as his heirs strengthen the nation. War Lord, the 13th novel is the final book of this series.

Biography of Bernard Cornwell | Life and Career
Biography of Bernard Cornwell | Life and Career

The first season of the TV series The Last Kingdom was based on The Last Kingdom and The Pale Horseman; The Lords of the North and Sword Song were the basis of the second season; and the third season was based on The Burning Land and Death of Kings, and after the fourth, a fifth series was also confirmed.

Warlord Chronicles

This trilogy depicts Bernard Cornwell’s historical re-creation of Arthurian Britain. it shows the difficult time for native Britons in post-Roman Britain due to the invasion of the Anglo-Saxons in the East and raids from the Irish in the West. At the same time, they also suffered from internal power struggles between their kingdoms and friction between newly arrived Christianity and the old Druidic religion. This chronicle is Bernard Cornwell’s personal favorite.

Grail Quest Novels

The Grail Quest series deals with a mid-14th century search for the Holy Grail during the Hundred Year’s War. English archer Thomas of Hookton gets drawn into the quest by the actions of The Harlequin. The Harlequin is a mercenary soldier who murders Thomas’s family in his frantic search for the Grail. Cornwell was planning to continue the story of Thomas after Heretic and he even started writing another story however he stopped. He stopped because he felt the story of Thomas ended in Heretic. Conwell returned to Thomas in 2012 and published 1356.

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