C. J. Sansom
|Genres||Historical fiction, crime fiction|
|Notable work(s)||Shardlake series|
|Notable award(s)||Sidewise Award|
Christopher John "C.J." Sansom is a British writer of crime novels. He was born in 1952 in Edinburgh, Scotland, and was educated at the University of Birmingham, where he took a BA and then a Ph.D in history. After working in a variety of jobs, he decided to retrain as a solicitor. He practised in Sussex as a lawyer for the disadvantaged, before quitting in order to work full-time as a writer. He currently lives in Sussex.
Sansom came to prominence with his historical mystery series set in the reign of Henry VIII in the 16th century. The series' main character is the hunchbacked lawyer Matthew Shardlake, who is assisted in his adventures by Mark Poer and then Jack Barak. Shardlake works on commission initially from Thomas Cromwell in Dissolution and Dark Fire, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer in Sovereign and Revelation and Queen Catherine Parr in Heartstone. Sansom has said that he plans to write further Shardlake novels taking the lawyer into the reign of Elizabeth I.
Sansom's alternate history novel Dominion, set in a Britain following a fictional Axis victory in World War II, depicts several historical figures (among them Lord Beaverbrook, Oswald Mosley, Enoch Powell, and Marie Stopes) as members of a Quisling puppet government. Powell's depiction in particular provoked controversy: Journalist Peter Hitchens called it a "babyish, historically illiterate slur" and called on Sansom to apologise to Powell's family. Allan Massie for The Daily Telegraph, however, defended the portrayal, arguing that "in the make-believe world of counter-factual history, a novelist is entitled to take a different line" and that having a younger version of Powell be as such was "not inherently improbable." The book was adapted in 10 episodes for BBC Radio 4, in September 2012.
Dark Fire won the 2005 Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, awarded by the Crime Writers' Association (CWA). Sansom himself was "Very Highly Commended" in the 2007 CWA Dagger in the Library award, for the Shardlake series. Dominion won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History.
Born in Scotland, Sansom is an opponent of Scottish independence, a prospect he describes as "literally heartbreaking". Following the publication of his 2012 novel Dominion, which depicted the Scottish National Party as collaborators with the British Nazi state, he stated that "A party which is often referred to by its members, as the SNP is, as the National Movement should send a chill down the spine of anyone who remembers what those words have often meant in Europe", before going on to describe the party as "deeply dangerous, with no politics in the conventional sense, believing only in the old dream that the unleashing of 'national spirit' and 'national pride' can solve a country's problems." He has donated a total of £294,000 to the Better Together group which campaigns for a "no" vote in the Scottish independence referendum, 2014. He also said that the Yes Scotland campaign had "dubious" financial backing.
Matthew Shardlake Series
- Sansom, C.J. (2003). Dissolution. London: Macmillan. ISBN 1-4050-0542-4.
- Sansom, C.J. (2004). Dark Fire. London: Macmillan. ISBN 1-4050-0544-0.
- Sansom, C.J. (2006). Sovereign. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-3304-3608-2.
- Sansom, C.J. (2008). Revelation. London: Macmillan. ISBN 0-3304-47106.
- Sansom, C.J. (2010). Heartstone. London: Mantle. ISBN 1-4050-9273-4.
- Lamentation, 2014.
- Sansom, C.J. (2006). Winter in Madrid. London: Macmillan. ISBN 1-4050-0546-7.
- Sansom, C.J. (2012). Dominion. London: Mantle. ISBN 978-0230744165.
- Crown, Sarah (15 November 2010). "CJ Sansom: a life in writing". The Guardian.
- "Enoch Powell widow 'furious' over 'ludicrous' slur that portray her husband as a Nazi sympathiser". Daily Mail. January 6, 2013. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
- Peter Hitchens (January 13, 2013). "We dole out £207bn in benefits. Even lemmings aren't that dumb". Mail on Sunday. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
- Allan Massie (January 7, 2013). "Enoch Powell was no fascist. But it's not ridiculous for an author to imagine him in a pro-Nazi government". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved February 20, 2013.
- the CWA Dagger in the Library 2007 – C.J. Sansom shortlisted for the Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award.
- Sidewise Award Nominees, SF Site News, July 1, 2013.
- Phil Miller (13 October 2012). "Scots author condemns 'dangerous' SNP in book". The Herald.
- CJ Sansom (19 October 2012). "My nightmare of a Nazi Britain". The Guardian.
- "Scottish independence: Better Together reveals donor list". BBC News. 7 April 2013.
- "Better Together backer linked SNP to "nationalist extremism"". Newsnet Scotland. 15 December 2013.
- Schoolboy rivalries in the Spanish civil war A review of Winter in Madrid, in Telegraph, 26.2.2006
- A wherry across the Thames A review of Dark Fire, by Stella Duffy, in The Guardian, 6.11.2004
- Spanish Civil War, stripped of Hemingway's romance A review of Winter in Madrid, by Katherine Bailey, in The Philadelphia Enquirer, 20.1.2008
- Revelation A review of "Revelation", by Peter Kemp, in The Sunday Times, 27.4.2008
- Romanttinen vakoojatarina A review of Finnish translated Winter in Madrid, by Jari Olavi Hiltunen, in Opettaja 21.5.2010
- Dominion A review of Dominion, in Upcoming4.me 12.7.2013
- Reviews & excerpts of Winter in Madrid, Revelation and Dominion at BookBrowse 2008-2014