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C. J. Sansom

C. J. Sansom

British author of crime fiction
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro British author of crime fiction
Countries United Kingdom
Occupations Writer
Gender male
Birth Edinburgh
Education University of Birmingham
The details

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 PhD 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 leaving the legal profession to become a full-time writer. He currently lives in Sussex.


Sansom came to prominence with the Shardlake series, 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 and Lamentation. Sansom has said that he plans to write further Shardlake novels taking the lawyer into the reign of Elizabeth I. Dissolution was adapted in 10 episodes for BBC Radio 4, in September 2012.

He has also written Winter in Madrid, a thriller set in Spain in 1940 in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War and Dominion, an alternate history novel set in a Britain following a fictional Axis victory in World War II.


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, in which his depiction of an alternate history where Germany won World War II includes the Scottish National Party acting 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 donated £294,000 to the Better Together group which campaigned for a "no" vote in the Scottish independence referendum, 2014. He also said that the Yes Scotland campaign had "dubious" financial backing.

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