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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