Ken Follett


Ken Follett

Infobox Writer
name = Ken Follett


caption =
birthdate = Birth date and age|1949|6|5|mf=y
birthplace = Cardiff, Wales
deathdate =
deathplace =
occupation = Novelist
genre = Thriller, Historical Fiction
movement =
notableworks =
influences =
influenced =
website =

Ken Follett (born June 5, 1949) is a British author of thrillers and historical novels. He has sold a total of 100 million copies.

Life

Ken Follett, the son of Martin and Veenie Follett, was born in Cardiff, Wales on 5 July 1949. He lived there in a middle-class household until the family moved to London at the age of ten. Barred from watching movies and television by his devoutly Christian parents, he developed an early interest in reading but remained an indifferent student until he entered his teens. 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 leftist politics. He married his first wife, Mary, in 1968.

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 Standard". Finding the work unchallenging, he eventually left journalism for publishing and became, by the late 1970s, deputy managing director of Everest Books. He also began writing fiction on evenings and weekends as a hobby. Success came gradually at first but the publication of "Eye of the Needle" in 1978 made him both wealthy and internationally famous. Each of Follett's subsequent novels has also become a best-seller, ranking highly on the "New York Times" best-seller and [http://www.NovelTracker.com NovelTracker.com] lists; a number have been adapted for the screen.

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 official, who became his second wife in 1984. She was elected a Member of Parliament in 1997, representing Stevenage. She was re-elected both in 2001 and in 2005. Follett himself remains a prominent Labour supporter and fundraiser.

Work

Follett is widely perceived as a talented historical/thriller author of fiction, with a long series of international best-sellers to his name.

Leaving aside a series of competent but undistinguished paperback originals written under various pseudonyms, of which "The Modigliani Scandal" and "Paper Money" are perhaps the best known, Follett's literary career has gone through four distinct phases.

The first, and most distinguished, phase comprises "Eye of the Needle" and the five books (four fiction and one non-fiction) that followed it. All are variations of the classic espionage thriller, pitting one or two daring, resourceful agents against a numerous and well-equipped enemy. The settings are both geographically and chronologically diverse, ranging from World War I Europe in "The Man from St. Petersburg" to (then) present-day Israel, Iran and Afghanistan in "Triple," "On Wings of Eagles" and "Lie Down with Lions". Like the early works of Frederick Forsyth, another journalist-turned-novelist, Follett's early thrillers devote much attention to "how" things are done. "The Key To Rebecca", for example, hinges on the workings of a particular type of secret code, the hero of "Triple" is a master of disguise, and clandestine radio transmitters play a major role in "Eye of the Needle". All six books—including "On Wings of Eagles", the non-fictional story of the successful attempt to rescue two American employees of Ross Perot's company EDS from Iran after the 1979 Revolution—follow the basic conventions of the thriller genre. All six, however, use those conventions in unconventional ways: making the protagonist of "Eye of the Needle" a German agent, for example.

The second phase of Follett's career was a conscious departure from the first: a series of four historical novels written in the late 1980s and early 1990s. "The Pillars of the Earth", the first of the four, set the pattern for the three that followed. Unlike Follett's earlier thrillers, it featured a large cast, multiple plotlines, occasional outbursts of violence, and extensive use of historical background. "Pillars," set mostly in medieval England, followed the building of a cathedral. "Night Over Water" was a "Grand Hotel"-style tale that took place aboard a transatlantic seaplane flying from Southampton to New York on the eve of World War II. "A Dangerous Fortune" revolved around family and business intrigue in a large family of financiers in Victorian-era London, and "A Place Called Freedom" took place in Britain's North American colonies around the time of the American Revolution.

Follett changed literary gears a third time in the late 1990s, with a pair of books set firmly in the present and using high technology as a plot device. "The Hammer of Eden" focused on the potential use of earthquakes as a terrorist weapon, and "The Third Twin" on the darker aspects of biotechnology. The two novels—seemingly an attempt to mine the same fictional vein as Michael Crichton—were comparatively unsuccessful. Reviewers, as well as many readers, found the characters shallow and the effort required to suspend disbelief too great.

Follett returned to conventional low-tech thrillers in "Code to Zero," an espionage story pitting Soviet and American agents on the eve of America's first satellite launch. The World War II adventures "Jackdaws" and "Hornet Flight" put Follett firmly back where he began: writing about daring agents operating undercover behind enemy lines, charged with a mission that could change the course of the war. Some critics and readers hailed them as a welcome and long-overdue return by Follett to the kind of story he writes best. Others regarded them as old wine in new bottles: rehashings of themes and situations he had treated more interestingly in his earlier work. Barring another radical shift in his literary output, Follett's reputation is likely to rest on his early thrillers (especially "Eye of the Needle" and "The Key to Rebecca") and on "The Pillars of the Earth", which he himself is said to regard as his finest work.

His most recent novel is "World Without End", a sequel to "The Pillars of the Earth", released in October 2007. He was inspired to write this novel in the cathedral of the Spanish town of Vitoria-Gasteiz, which is why Vitoria has honored him with a sculpture in his likeness.

He received an Honorary LLD (Doctor of Laws) from Exeter University on 11 July 2008.

Bibliography

* "The Big Needle" (1974) (as Simon Myles) (apa "The Big Apple" - U.S.)Apples Carstairs series]
* "The Big Black" (1974) (as Simon Myles)
* "The Big Hit" (1975) (as Simon Myles)
* "The Shakeout" (1975)Piers Roper series]
* "The Bear Raid" (1976)
* "Amok: King of Legend" (1976) (as Bernard L. Ross)
* "The Modigliani Scandal" (1976) (as Zachary Stone)
* "The Mystery Hideout" (1976) (as Martin Martinsen) (apa "The Secret of Kellerman's Studio")
* "The Power Twins" (1976) (as Martin Martinsen)
* "Paper Money" (1977) (as Zachary Stone)
* "Capricorn One" (1978) (as Bernard L. Ross) (based on screenplay by Peter Hyams)
* "Eye of the Needle" (1978) (apa "Storm Island") (Edgar Award, 1979, Best Novel)
* "Heist of the Century" (1978) (with Rene Louis Maurice, others) (apa "The Gentleman of 16 July" - U.S.) (apa "Under the Streets of Nice") (apa "Robbery Under the Streets of Nice") [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. [http://www.ken-follett.com/bibliography/heist.html] ] [Translation from original French version.]
* "Triple" (1979)
* "The Key to Rebecca" (1980)
* "The Man from St. Petersburg" (1982)
* "On Wings of Eagles" (1983) ISBN 0-451-16353-2
* "Lie Down with Lions" (1986)
* "The Pillars of the Earth" (1989)
* "Night Over Water" (1991)
* "A Dangerous Fortune" (1993)
* "A Place Called Freedom" (1995)
* "The Third Twin" (1996)
* "The Hammer of Eden" (1998)
* "Code to Zero" (2000)
* "Jackdaws" (2001)
* "Hornet Flight" (2002)
* "Whiteout" (2004)
* "World Without End" (2007)

Footnotes

External links

* [http://www.ken-follett.com/ Ken Follett's Website]
* [http://loadedquestions.blogspot.com/2007/11/loaded-questions-world-without-end.html Interview with Ken Follett] in which he discusses his role as an amateur medieval historian for the last thirty years, news of "The Pillar of the Earth" being chosen as an Oprah Book Club book, and the release of "World Without End" with Kelly Hewitt for [http://loadedquestions.blogspot.com/ Loaded Questions.]
* [http://www.spanningzoeker.nl/follett/index.html Ken Follett Dutch fansite with covers]

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Persondata
NAME= Follet, Ken
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=
SHORT DESCRIPTION= British Novelist
DATE OF BIRTH= June 5, 1949
PLACE OF BIRTH= Cardiff, Wales
DATE OF DEATH=
PLACE OF DEATH=


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