Best-selling Shardlake author CJ Sansom dies days before Disney+ series airs

Virgin Radio

29 Apr 2024, 11:51

Author CJ Sansom smiling and Arthur Hughes in the Disney+ adaptation of Sansom's Shardlake novels

Credit: Penguin/Disney+

CJ Sansom, the best-selling author of the Shardlake book series, has died aged 71.

Sansom’s death last Saturday (27th April) was announced by his publisher on 29th April, mere days before the much-anticipated television adaptation of his popular book series is set to be released on Disney+ on Wednesday, 1st May. 

The Scottish author first introduced readers to fictional 16th century lawyer Matthew Shardlake in 2003 in his book, Dissolution. Six further Shardlake adventures followed, up until 2018’s Tombland.

In addition to his work on the Shardlake series, Sansom also wrote two stand-alone historical novels. The author published Winter in Madrid - a thriller set in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War - in 2006; and Dominion - an alternate universe story set in an imagined 1950s Nazi-controlled Britain - in 2012.

“It is with immense sadness that [publishers] Pan Macmillan announces the death of CJ Sansom,” a statement read on Monday. “Chris won many accolades for his work, including most recently the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for his outstanding contribution to the genre. There are over three million copies of his novels in print.”

Sansom’s agent Antony Topping shared in his own tribute to the writer. “Chris did not seek the limelight, preferring to be known through his novels, and so in comparison with his fame and reputation relatively few people were lucky enough to know the person behind the work," he wrote.

“[Sansom] had an immense, far-reaching and deeply humane intelligence. His fans can see this in the novels but he applied it equally in his everyday dealings with friends, in his politics and his charitable acts. He had a loathing of injustice of any kind and a special contempt for bullies.”

Topping also added: “It is an extraordinarily strange coincidence that Chris has died only a handful of days before a new generation of fans will meet Matthew Shardlake, Barak and Guy and co. for the first time through the Disney+ adaptation of Dissolution which is being released on Wednesday of this week. 

“This is also a moment for which Chris’s established fans have been waiting a long time. Chris was so proud of all the work and determination that went into bringing the novels to our television screens, which I hope will bring an entirely new audience to the books and which will maybe also inspire some old fans to return to their favourite CJ Sansom novels. So long, Chris. I was lucky to know you.”

The thoughts of everyone at Virgin Radio are with Sansom's friends and family.