Ken Follett Biography


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Kenneth Martin Follett was born on June 5, 1949, in Cardiff, Wales, the son of Martin D. Follett and Lavinia C. Evans Follett. His father was an Inland Revenue clerk and later a lecturer at a school for tax inspectors. After growing up in Cardiff, Follett studied philosophy at the University of London. He married Mary Emma Ruth Elson in 1968, and their son, Emanuele, was born later that year. A daughter, Marie-Claire, was born in 1973. Follett’s wife worked as a bookkeeper while he continued his education. After he graduated in 1970, he worked as a reporter and popular-music columnist for the South Wales Echo in Cardiff. In 1973, he became a crime reporter for the Evening News in London for a year. Follett’s switch from journalism to fiction resulted from financial necessity. His daughter had just been born and the family had recently bought a house when Follett’s car broke down. Because a fellow journalist had made some quick money by selling a mystery novel, Follett hurriedly wrote The Big Needle (1974), a mystery about drug dealers. The book paid Follett’s car repair bill and encouraged him to continue pursuing fiction.

In 1974, Follett joined the staff of Everest Books, a modest London publisher, to learn the essentials of writing best sellers. He spent the following years rising to deputy managing director of the firm and writing nine more books—mysteries, thrillers, and children’s mysteries—under his own name...

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(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Kenneth Martin Follett was born in Cardiff, Wales, on June 5, 1949, the son of Lavinia C. Evans and Martin D. Follett. His father worked as an inland revenue clerk and then as a lecturer training tax inspectors. Follett’s conservative Christian parents barred television in the home and disapproved of films. There were few books in the Follett home, but the young Follett read avidly the works available in the public library. His family moved to London in 1959. At the age of eighteen, Follett married Mary Emma Ruth Elson, who was pregnant, so their son (Emanuele) would not be born out of wedlock. Elson then worked as a bookkeeper, while Follett studied philosophy at the University of London, becoming involved in left-wing politics, participating in anti-Vietnam War and antiapartheid rallies, and graduating in 1970. He worked as a reporter and rock music columnist for the South Wales Echo (Cardiff) until 1973, when his daughter Marie-Claire was born, then switched for one year to covering Scotland Yard and crime in general for the Evening News (London) before turning his hand to fiction because of financial necessity.

Follett’s first novel, The Big Needle, a murder mystery in which the father of a comatose drug user brings down heroin dealers, paid for Follett’s car repairs and rent. He went to work for a small London publisher, Everest Books, to find out how to write moneymaking books. After being promoted to deputy managing...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Kenneth Martin Follett (FAHL-iht) is a writer of popular spy thrillers. He is the son of Martin Follett, a clerk in the British internal revenue department, and Lavinia Follett, a full-time homemaker. Raised in a strict, fundamentalist environment, Follett was a voracious reader who lived in the fantasy world of books. He did well in school, and an aptitude test taken at the age of eleven gained him admission into a college preparatory high school and later into the prestigious state-supported University of London. The shift from working class to middle class, accomplished through the educational process, enabled Follett to move later with ease through different worlds and cultures in his books as well as in his own life.{$S[A]Myles, Symon;Follett, Ken}{$S[A]Ross, Bernard L.;Follett, Ken}{$S[A]Stone, Zachary;Follett, Ken}{$S[A]Martinsen, Martin;Follett, Ken}

Upon his graduation with an honors degree in philosophy in 1970, Follett began his career in journalism as a rock-music columnist for the South Wales Echo from 1970 to 1973. He returned to London in 1973 to work as a crime reporter for the Evening News. In 1974 he left journalism for a young publishing company, Everest Books, joining some journalistic acquaintances who knew very little about book publishing. He assumed the position of editorial director and later became deputy managing director in 1976. Eager to learn what make books sell, Follett stayed at Everest Books for five years.

In 1973, feeling the need to earn additional income, Follett followed the example of a coworker and hurriedly wrote The Big Needle, using the pseudonym of Symon Myles. He then wrote a series of mysteries, thrillers, and science-fiction novels, along with two children’s books, all written under various pseudonyms.

In 1978, convinced that he had...

(The entire section is 753 words.)


Ken Follett was born in 1949, in Cardiff, Wales. After graduating from college with a degree in philosophy, Follett worked as a journalist and later as an editor in the publishing industry. Follett has said that he realized he would not be as good a journalist as he had hoped, so he first took up writing fiction as a hobby, working on stories in his free time. However, with the 1978 award-winning publication of his thriller Eye of the Needle, Follett's focus changed. This was actually Follett's eleventh book, but it was the first to become popular. The novel built a large and supportive reading audience for Follett, who continued writing in the same genre. He went on to publish more thrillers, many of which were adapted to screen and television.

Then in 1989, Follett surprised readers by publishing his first historical novel, The Pillars of the Earth. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise, and his audience grew, especially after the novel made Oprah Winfrey's list of best books. Follett has published fifteen novels since writing his first successful book, most of them featuring strong, central female characters.