'Dramatic new departure' for Bernard Cornwell

'Dramatic new departure' for Bernard Cornwell

Bernard Cornwell is to publish a new title with HarperCollins set in the Elizabethan period in a "dramatic new departure" for the author.

Taking a break from his "highly popular" Last Kingdom book series, based on the Saxons and the Danes in ninth and 10th century Britain and featuring the enigmatic warrior Uhtred Ragnarson, Cornwell's new title follows the young Richard Shakespeare, an actor struggling to make his way in a company dominated by his estranged older brother, William. In Richard, Cornwell has created "his most fascinating character yet," said HarperCollins executive publisher Kate Elton.

Fools and Mortals is based on the Elizabethan era - one of Cornwell's favourite periods of British history.

As the growth of theatre blooms, the book will follow the rivalry between Richard and his brother William – and that of the playhouses, playwrights and actors vying for acclaim and glory – propels a high-stakes story of conflict and betrayal.

Elton said: “Bernard Cornwell is already one of the most successful novelists writing today – as his recent string of Sunday Times number one bestsellers has demonstrated. He is famous for his creation of iconic flawed heroes, and in Richard Shakespeare has created his most fascinating character yet.”

The publisher holds world English rights to Fools and Mortals which will be published in the UK on 19th October, and in the US on January 9th, 2018.

The BBC is currently airing the second series of its television adaptation of The Last Kingdom, starring Alexander Dreymon as Ragnarson. Despite Cornwell's departure from the series for his next title, a HarperCollins spokesperson promised "Uhtred will definitely return". The television tie-in editions of the series sold 25,398 copies during October-December 2015 when the first series aired, Nielsen BookScan figures show.

Cornwell is the author of 50 novels, of which 10 are from The Last Kingdom series. Since Nielsen BookScan records began in 1998, he has sold 8.64 million books for £61.7m.