By Katarzyna Ogrodnik-Fujcik
August 13th marks the birthday anniversary of one of the greatest authors of historical fiction of all time. Had she lived Sharon Kay Penman would have turned 76. Unfortunately, she passed away this past January, leaving the world deprived of all the books she still could have written.
Sharon is the author of ten critically acclaimed historical novels: The Sunne in Splendour, Here be Dragons, Falls the Shadow, The Reckoning, When Christ and his Saints Slept, Time and Chance, Devil’s Brood, Lionheart, A King’s Ransom and The Land Beyond the Sea. She has also written four medieval mysteries: The Queen’s Man, Cruel as the Grave, Dragon’s Lair, and Prince of Darkness. Of her latest novel The Land Beyond the Sea, published in March of 2020, Publishers Weekly wrote:
Penman’s well-honed skill for weaving deeply researched details into epic tales is on full display. Fans of medieval historical fiction won’t want to miss this.
Unfortunately, with their beloved author’s passing, they are going to miss it greatly. Here are what others have had to say about Sharon:
A brilliant mind, a generous spirit and above all a literary alchemist. Sharon Kay Penman…..a rare individual blessed with many special qualities. A possessed an uncanny ability to devour mountains of information, distilling and refining it into knowledge which she then imparted to others. Her passion for history and storytelling drew us in. Brilliant prose held us in thrall and literally transformed us into time-travellers! ~ Joan Battistuzzi, Canada
Two historical fiction authors have managed to touch my soul with their stories of Wales and who truly understood the meaning of ‘Hiraeth’ to the Welsh. The first was Edith Pargetter, the second was Sharon Kay Penman. Sharon’s deep love for Wales and the Welsh shines from her books and we have all shed tears to overflowing reading her stories, not just of the Welsh Princes, but also of the Kings and Queens of Medieval Britain and France. ~ Ken John, Wales
I came across the works of Sharon Kay Penman during my university studies. I studied history and reading historical novels has always been one of my biggest passions, especially the novels set in the Middle Ages. It is difficult to find a novel that will not only be interesting, beautifully written, and will not distort facts and historical accuracy. I have found it all in Sharon Kay Penman works. ~ Kasia Ścierańska, Poland
As soon as I started reading I was hooked, and have been hooked on Sharon Kay Penman ever since. I think my favourite books are the Justin de Quincy mysteries. Probably because when someone dies in these books I know it’s fiction, whereas in the others, when someone dies….they really do. ~ David Parr, Australia
Whenever I read anything about Henry II, Richard the Lionheart and so many more historical people that Sharon Kay Penman brought so vividly to life I think of her, so nice and engaging with her readers, and of her wonderful Facebook group that introduced me to so many fellow medieval history and book lovers that have now become friends. ~ Marsha Lambert, United States of America
She left us such a precious legacy. Not only her wonderful books but also the gift of decency and friendship. Thanks to Sharon, I made so many friends all over the world, and whenever I read her books, I will also feel deeply grateful and indebted. ~ Sonja Koch, Germany
To learn more about Sharon and her books, please visit the Sharon Kay Penman website.
Katarzyna Ogrodnik-Fujcik is a teacher, amateur historian and freelance writer. She works with different magazines and websites on Polish and European history. She runs a blog dedicated to Henry the Young King.
Top Image: Sharon Kay Penman in France, 2005. Photo courtesy of William Penman Jr, Wikimedia Commons