Ken Follett is one of the world’s most successful authors. Over 160 million copies of the 31 books he has written have been sold in over 80 countries and in 33 languages.
Born on June 5, 1949, in Cardiff, Wales, the son of a tax inspector, Ken was educated at state schools and went on to graduate from University College, London, with an Honours degree in philosophy. He was made a fellow of the college in 1995.
He started his career as a reporter, first with his hometown newspaper, the South Wales Echo, and then with the London Evening News. Subsequently, he worked for a small London publishing house, Everest Books, eventually becoming the deputy managing director.
Ken’s last project, the Century Trilogy, has sold 19.5 million copies worldwide. The three books tell the story of the twentieth century through five generations on three continents. Ken’s first major success came with the publication of Eye of the Needle in 1978. A World War II thriller set in England, this book earned him the 1979 Edgar Award for Best Novel from the Mystery Writers of America. It remains one of his most popular books.
In 1989, Ken’s epic novel about the building of a medieval cathedral, The Pillars of the Earth, was published. It reached number one on bestseller lists everywhere and was turned into a major television series produced by Ridley Scott, which aired in 2010. The next book in the Kingsbridge series, World Without End, the sequel to The Pillars of the Earth, proved equally popular when it was published in 2007. The Kingsbridge series has sold 38 million copies worldwide.
Ken has been active in numerous literacy charities and was the president of Dyslexia Action for ten years. He was the chair of the National Year of Reading, a joint initiative between government and businesses. He is also active in many Stevenage charities and is the president of the Stevenage Community Trust. Ken also set up The Follett Trust, which awards single donations to the arts and in cases of social deprivation and education.
Ken, who loves music almost as much as he loves books, is an enthusiastic bass guitar player in two bands. He lives in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England, with his wife, Barbara, the former Labour member of Parliament for Stevenage. Between them they have five children, six grandchildren, and three Labradors.