Ken Follett

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Ken Follett
Ken Follett - Credit - Barbara Follett
Born(1949-06-05) 5 June 1949 (age 64)
Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
OccupationNovelist
NationalityWelsh
Period1974 - present
GenresThriller, historical fiction
Notable work(s)Eye of the Needle, The Key to Rebecca, Pillars of the Earth, World Without End, Whiteout
Spouse(s)Barbara Follett

www.ken-follett.com
 
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Ken Follett
Ken Follett - Credit - Barbara Follett
Born(1949-06-05) 5 June 1949 (age 64)
Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
OccupationNovelist
NationalityWelsh
Period1974 - present
GenresThriller, historical fiction
Notable work(s)Eye of the Needle, The Key to Rebecca, Pillars of the Earth, World Without End, Whiteout
Spouse(s)Barbara Follett

www.ken-follett.com

Kenneth Martin "Ken" Follett (born 5 June 1949) is a Welsh author of thrillers and historical novels. He has sold more than 130 million copies of his works. Many of his books have reached the number 1 ranking on the New York Times best-seller list, including Fall of Giants, The Key to Rebecca, Lie Down with Lions, Triple, Winter of the World, and World Without End.[1]

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Follett was born on 5 June 1949 in Cardiff, Wales. He was the first child of Martin Follett, a tax inspector, and Lavinia (Veenie) Follett, who went on to have three more children.[2][3] Barred from watching movies and television by his Plymouth Brethren parents, he developed an early interest in reading but remained an indifferent student until he entered his teens.[2][3] His family moved to London when he was ten years old, and he began applying himself to his studies at Harrow Weald Grammar School and Poole Technical College. He won admission in 1967 to University College London, where he studied philosophy and became involved in centre-left politics.

Marriage and early success[edit]

He married his first wife, Mary, in 1968, and their son Emanuele was born in the same year. After graduation in the autumn of 1970, Follett took a three-month post-graduate course in journalism and went to work as a trainee reporter in Cardiff on the South Wales Echo. After three years in Cardiff, he returned to London as a general-assignment reporter for the Evening News. Finding the work unchallenging, he eventually left journalism for publishing and became, by the late 1970s, deputy managing director of the small London publisher Everest Books.[2] He also began writing fiction during evenings and weekends as a hobby. Later, he said he began writing books when he needed extra money to fix his car, and the publisher's advance a fellow journalist had been paid for a thriller was the sum required for the repairs.[4] Success came gradually at first, but the publication of Eye of the Needle in 1978 made him both wealthy and internationally famous.

Further successes[edit]

Each of Follett's subsequent novels has also become a best-seller, ranking high on the New York Times Best Seller list; a number have been adapted for the screen.

Ken Follett has written 29 books in the past 35 years. The first five best-sellers were spy thrillers: Eye of the Needle (1978), Triple (1979), The Key to Rebecca (1980), The Man from St Petersburg (1982) and Lie Down with Lions (1986). On Wings of Eagles (1983), was the true story of how two of Ross Perot’s employees were rescued from Iran during the revolution of 1979. He then surprised readers by radically changing course with The Pillars of the Earth (1989), a novel about building a cathedral in the Middle Ages. It received rave reviews and was on the New York Times best-seller list for 18 weeks. It also topped best-seller lists in Canada, Britain and Italy, and was on the German best-seller list for six years. It has sold 18 million copies so far.

The next three novels, Night Over Water (1991), A Dangerous Fortune (1993) and A Place Called Freedom (1995) were more historical than thriller, but he returned to the thriller genre with The Third Twin (1996) which in the Publishing Trends annual survey of international fiction best-sellers for 1997 was ranked no. 2 worldwide, after John Grisham's The Partner. His next work, The Hammer of Eden (1998) was another contemporary suspense story followed by a cold war thriller Code to Zero (2000).

Follett returned to the WWII era with his next two novels, Jackdaws (2001), a World War II thriller about a group of women parachuted into France to destroy a vital telephone exchange – which won the Corine Prize for 2003 – and Hornet Flight (2002), about a daring young Danish couple who escape to Britain from occupied Denmark in a rebuilt Hornet Moth biplane with vital information about German radar. Whiteout (2004), is a contemporary thriller about the theft of a deadly virus from a research lab.

World Without End (2007) is the sequel to Pillars of the Earth. The book returns to Kingsbridge two hundred years later, and features the descendents of the characters in ‘Pillars’. It focuses on the destinies of a handful of people as their lives are devastated by the Black Death, the plague that swept Europe in the middle of the fourteenth century.

Century Trilogy[edit]

Follett's next three novels, Fall of Giants, Winter of the World and Edge of Eternity, make up the Century trilogy. Fall of Giants (2010) followed the fates of five interrelated families - American, German, Russian, English and Welsh - as they moved through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution and the struggle for women's suffrage. Fall of Giants, published simultaneously in 14 countries, was internationally popular and topped several best-seller lists.[5]

Winter of the World (2012) picks up where the first book left off, as its five interrelated families enter a time of enormous social, political, and economic turmoil, beginning with the rise of the Third Reich, through the Spanish Civil War and the great dramas of World War II, to the explosions of the American and Soviet atom bombs and the beginning of the long Cold War.

The third novel in the ‘Century’ trilogy, Edge of Eternity, which follows those families through the events of the last half of the century, is due to be published in late 2014.

Appearances and adaptations in other media[edit]

Eye of the Needle was made into an acclaimed film, starring Donald Sutherland, and six novels have been made into television mini-series: The Key to Rebecca, Lie Down with Lions, On Wings of Eagles, The Third Twin – the rights for which were sold to CBS for $1 400 000, a record price at the time – and The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. These last two have been screened in several languages in many countries. Ken Follett also had a cameo role as the valet in The Third Twin and later as a merchant in The Pillars of the Earth.

Public life[edit]

Ken Follett is a member of various organisations that promote literacy and writing, and is actively involved in various organisations in his home town of Stevenage.

He is active in numerous Stevenage charities and was a governor of Roebuck Primary School for ten years, serving as the Chair of Governors for four of those years.

On 15 September 2010, Follett, along with 54 other public figures, signed an open letter published in The Guardian stating their opposition to Pope Benedict XVI's state visit to the UK.[8]

Awards[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Follett became involved, during the late 1970s, in the activities of Britain's Labour Party. In the course of his political activities, he met the former Barbara Broer, a Labour Party official, who became his second wife in 1984. She was elected as a Member of Parliament in 1997, representing Stevenage. She was re-elected in both 2001 and in 2005, but did not run in the 2010 general election.[13] Follett himself remains a prominent Labour supporter and fundraiser as well as a prominent Blairite. In 2010, he was the largest donor to Ed Balls's campaign to become leader of the Labour Party, saying "Ed Balls is the only Labour leadership candidate who offers a path to economic growth; his time at the treasury, with low borrowing and high growth, shows he is the true candidate of the centre in this leadership election. Only Ed offers a broad appeal to all voters and is not afraid to stand up to the left wing of the party, much like Tony Blair."[citation needed]

Bibliography[edit]

Follett statue in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain.

Apples Carstairs series (as Simon Myles)

Piers Roper series

Kingsbridge series

The Century Trilogy

Standalone novels

Non-fiction

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Ken Follett". New York Times List of Number One Best Sellers
  2. ^ a b c "Ken Follett". WNYC. 7 December 2003. Retrieved 2009-01-28. [dead link]
  3. ^ a b "The early years ...". Retrieved 2009-01-28. 
  4. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (21 July 2010). "No Money to Fix Your Car? Write a Best Seller". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-22. 
  5. ^ http://ken-follett.com/downloads/biography/Ken_Follett_biography_en_1209.pdf
  6. ^ http://www.greatertalent.com/kenfollett/
  7. ^ http://www.nottinghampost.com/Charley-Boorman-s-visit-young-offenders/story-12233012-detail/story.html
  8. ^ "Letters: Harsh judgments on the pope and religion". The Guardian (London). 15 September 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2010. 
  9. ^ http://www.que-leer.com/19675/maria-duenas-y-ken-follett-premios-que-leer-de-los-lectores.html
  10. ^ http://www.shelfari.com/awards/Hungarian-Libri-Golden-Book-Award
  11. ^ http://www.catedralvitoria.com/ingles/mediateca_videos.php?opc=2_117&pagina=1
  12. ^ http://www.premiobancarella.info/bancarella/albo.php
  13. ^ "MP Follett to repay largest sum". BBC News. 4 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-22. 
  14. ^ "Winter of the World by Ken Follett" CBS News
  15. ^ Follett rewrote this book after two translators had failed to produce a publishable version of the original French work. Follett has tried to keep it from being published under his name and disowns it entirely, entreating readers not to buy it. [1]
  16. ^ Translation from original French version.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]