CJ Sansom: author of Shardlake series dies aged 71 days ahead of Disney+ series premiere starring Sean Bean

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Author CJ Sansom has died just days before an adaptation of his popular Shardlake series is due to premiere on Disney+

Celebrated author CJ Sansom has died at the age of 71, his agent has confirmed.

The Edinburgh-born author, who died on Saturday (April 27), created the famous Shardlake series of historical mystery novels featuring the titular Matthew Shardlake. The novels have been popular with readers since the release of his debut novel Dissolution in 2003.

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Antony Topping, Sansom's agent, said in a statement: “"It is with enormous sadness that we announce the death of CJ Sansom, a writer it has been our privilege to represent since publication of his first novel, Dissolution, more than twenty years ago. Chris was first introduced to the agency by another of our authors, herself a legend in crime fiction, PD James. Chris had sent some early chapters of Dissolution to PD James who picked up on his talent and posted the chapters to us. If I remember correctly she wrote a cover note saying something characteristically understated like “I think there might be something here…”, and she wasn’t wrong.” Sansom released six books in the series, with the latest, Tombland, published in 2018. His death comes only days before a Disney+ adaptation of the series starring Sean Bean, Arthur Hughes and Anthony Boyle titled Shardlake premieres on the platform.

Topping 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’ 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. We were lucky to know you.”

His editor and publisher, Maria Rejt, added: “An intensely private person, Chris wished from the very start only to be published quietly and without fanfare. But he always took immense pleasure in the public’s enthusiastic responses to his novels and worked tirelessly on each book, never wanting to disappoint a single reader.

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“He was working on his new Shardlake novel, Ratcliff, when he died but his worsening health made progress painfully slow: his meticulous historical research and his writing were always so important to him. I shall miss him hugely, not only as a wonderfully talented writer who gave joy to millions, but as a dear friend of enormous compassion and integrity.”

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