Ken Follett, the son of Martin and Veenie Follett, was born in Cardiff, Wales and lived there until the family moved to London ten years later. 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, 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 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. He also began writing fiction during 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 high on the New York Times best-seller and 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 as a Member of Parliament in 1997, representing Stevenage. She was re-elected in both 2001 and in 2005. Follett himself remains a prominent Labour supporter and fundraiser.¹
"You can't write novels about people who are timid, risk-averse and passive. Or you can, but they're called literary novels."
"I never write directly about my own life, but indirectly everything ends up being used in my work."
Ken Follett fans. For your convenience a printable Ken Follett checklist.
* Fall of Giants, Winter of the World and Edge of Eternity comprise Ken Follet's "Century" trilogy.