Born in Essex in 1944 Bernard Cornwell was adopted at the age of six weeks by two members of a strict fundamentalist sect called the Peculiar People. He grew up in a household that forbade alcohol, cigarettes, dances, television, conventional medicine and toy guns. Not surprisingly, he developed a fascination for military adventure. As a teenager he devoured CS Forester’s Hornblower novels and tried to enlist three times. Poor eyesight put paid to his dream, instead he went to university to read theology. On graduating, he became a teacher, then joined BBC’s Nationwide, working his way up the ladder to become head of current affairs at BBC Northern Ireland, then editor of Thames News. In 1979, his life changed when he fell in love with an American.
“Judy couldn’t live here, so I gave up my job and moved to the US. I couldn’t get a green card, and for 18 months the only thing I could do was write novels.” The result was his first book about 19th century hero, Richard Sharpe, Sharpe’s Eagle.
Today he has 20 Sharpe adventures behind him, plus a series about the American Civil War, the Starbuck novels; an enormously successful trilogy about King Arthur, The Warlord Chronicles; the Hundred Years War set Grail Quest series; and his current series about King Alfred.
Bernard Cornwell owns houses in Cape Cod and Florida and two boats. Every year he takes two months off from his writing and spends most of his time on his 24 foot Cornish crabber, Royalist.