Ken Follett burst into the book world in 1978
with Eye of the Needle, a taut and original thriller with a
memorable woman character in the central role. The book won
the Edgar award and became an outstanding film starring
Kate Nelligan and Donald Sutherland.
He went on to write four more bestselling thrillers:
Triple; The Key to Rebecca; The Man from St Petersburg; and
Lie Down with Lions. Cliff Robertson and David Soul starred
in the miniseries of The Key to Rebecca. In 1994 Timothy
Dalton, Omar Sharif and Marg Helgenberger starred in the
miniseries of Lie Down with Lions.
He also wrote On Wings of Eagles, the true story of how two
employees of Ross Perot were rescued from Iran during the
revolution of 1979. This book was made into a miniseries
with Richard Crenna as Ross Perot and Burt Lancaster as
Colonel "Bull" Simons.
He then surprised readers by radically changing course with
The Pillars of the Earth, a novel about building a
cathedral in the Middle Ages. Published in September 1989
to rave reviews, it was on the New York Times bestseller
list for eighteen weeks. It also reached the No. 1 position
on lists in Canada, Great Britain and Italy, and was on the
German bestseller list for six years.
For a while he abandoned the straightforward spy genre, but
his stories still had powerful narrative drive, strong
women characters, and elements of suspense and intrigue. He
followed Pillars with Night over Water, A Dangerous
Fortune, and A Place Called Freedom.
Then he returned to the thriller. The Third Twin is a
scorching suspense novel about a young woman scientist who
stumbles over a secret experiment in genetic engineering.
Miniseries rights were sold to CBS for $1,400,000, a record
price for four hours of television. The series, starring
Kelly McGillis and Larry Hagman, was broadcast in the USA
in November 1997. In Publishing Trends' annual survey of
international fiction bestsellers for 1997, The Third Twin
was ranked No. 2 in the world, beaten only by John
Grisham's The Partner.
The Hammer of Eden, another nail-biting
contemporary suspense story, came in 1998. Code to Zero
(2000), about brainwashing and rocket science in the
fifties, went to No.1 on bestseller lists in the USA,
German and Italy, and film rights were snapped up by Doug
Wick, producer of Gladiator, in a seven-figure deal.
Ken returned to the WWII era with his next two novels:
Jackdaws (2001), a World War II thriller about a group of
women parachuted into France to destroy a vital telephone
exchange – which won the won the Corine Prize for 2003– and
Hornet Flight (2002), about a daring young Danish couple
who escape to Britain from occupied Denmark in a rebuilt
Hornet Moth biplane with vital information about German
His latest novel, Whiteout (2004), is a contemporary
thriller about the theft of a deadly virus from a research
lab. Set in the remote Scottish Highlands over a stormy,
snow-bound Christmas, Whiteout crackles with jealousies,
distrust, sexual attraction, rivalries, hidden traitors and
His next project will be the long-awaited sequel to The
Pillars of the Earth.
Ken's papers are held in a collection at Saginaw Valley
State University in Michigan, United States. These include
outlines, first drafts, notes and correspondence, original
manuscripts and copies of early books now out of print. He
has sold approximately ninety million books worldwide.
Ken Follett is married to Barbara Follett, the Member of
Parliament for Stevenage in Hertfordshire. They live in a
rambling rectory in Stevenage, 30 miles north of London,
with two Labrador retrievers called Custard and Bess. They
also have an eighteenth-century town house in London and a
holiday home in Antigua. Ken Follett is a lover of
Shakespeare, and is often to be seen at performances by the
Royal Shakespeare Company in London. An enthusiastic
amateur musician, he plays bass guitar in a band called
Damn Right I Got the Blues.
He was Chair of the National Year of Reading 1998-99, a
British government initiative to raise literacy levels. He
is president of the The Dyslexia Institute, Chair of the
advisory committee of Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) UK, a
council member of the National Literacy Trust, a member of
The Welsh Academy, a board director of the National Academy
of Writing, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He
is active in numerous Stevenage charities and is Chair of
Governors of Roebuck Primary School.
Books:Edge of Eternity, September 2014
Century Trilogy #3
Winter Of The World, September 2012
Century Trilogy #2
Fall of Giants, October 2010
Century Trilogy #1
World Without End, October 2008
sequel to The Pillars of the Earth
World Without End, October 2007
The Pillars of the Earth, April 2007
Whiteout, October 2005
Eye Of The Needle, January 2005