Author Biography

Ken Follett Biography

Kenneth Martin Follett, popularly known as Ken Follett, is a highly acclaimed Welsh author celebrated for his thrilling novels and captivating historical fiction. With an impressive literary career spanning decades, Follett has established himself as one of the most successful writers in the world. Born on June 5, 1949, in Cardiff, Wales, Follett’s literary genius has captured the attention of millions of readers across the globe.

Throughout his illustrious career, Ken Follett has sold more than 160 million copies of his works, making him a bestselling author of international renown. His ability to craft riveting narratives has earned him numerous accolades and secured multiple number-one positions on the prestigious New York Times Best Seller list.

Key Takeaways

  • Ken Follett is a Welsh author known for his thrilling novels and historical fiction.
  • He has sold over 160 million copies of his works, making him one of the world’s most successful authors.
  • Follett’s genre range includes thrillers, spy novels, and historical fiction.
  • Notable works include “Eye of the Needle,” “The Pillars of the Earth,” and the Century Trilogy.
  • He has been recognized with awards such as the Edgar Award and has had several of his novels adapted for film and television.

Early Life and Education

In this section, we explore the early life and educational background of Ken Follett, shedding light on the formative experiences that shaped his journey as a renowned author.

Early Life: Ken Follett was born on June 5, 1949, in Cardiff, Wales. Growing up in a household with restricted access to films and television due to his parents’ religious beliefs, Follett turned to books as a source of entertainment and inspiration. His deep love for reading developed at an early age, fueling his imagination and laying the foundation for his future literary career.

Education: Academically gifted, Follett excelled during his teenage years. He later pursued higher education at University College London (UCL), where he studied philosophy. During his time at UCL, Follett became actively involved in center-left political activities, further broadening his perspective and molding his worldview.

After graduating in the autumn of 1970, Follett continued his educational journey by pursuing a post-graduate course in journalism. Eager to embark on a career that would allow him to explore his passion for storytelling, he soon found himself working as a trainee reporter for the South Wales Echo in Cardiff.

Ken Follett’s Early Life and Education Timeline
1949Born in Cardiff, Wales
1960sDeveloped a deep love for reading
1968Entered University College London (UCL) to study philosophy
Late 1960s to Early 1970sInvolved in center-left political activities
Autumn 1970Graduated from UCL
1970sPursued post-graduate course in journalism
1970sStarted working as a trainee reporter for the South Wales Echo

Ken Follett’s early life and educational experiences laid the groundwork for his future endeavors as a writer. From his avid reading habits to his academic pursuits in philosophy and journalism, each step played a crucial role in shaping his literary journey.

Finding Inspiration in Life’s Early Chapters

“Books opened my mind to a world beyond the one I was living in. They gave me a glimpse into different cultures, time periods, and perspectives. It was through reading that I discovered the power of storytelling and the profound impact it can have on individuals and society.”
– Ken Follett

Career Beginnings and Writing Success

After working as a reporter in Cardiff, Ken Follett moved to London and joined a small publishing house, Everest Books. During his evenings and weekends, he started writing fiction as a hobby. His breakthrough came with the publication of his novel “Eye of the Needle” in 1978. This World War II thriller became an international bestseller, selling over 10 million copies and earning him the prestigious Edgar Award for Best Novel. The success of “Eye of the Needle” allowed Follett to pursue writing full-time and led to the publication of many more highly successful novels.

Follett’s career in writing began with his time at Everest Books, where he honed his skills as an author. Inspired by his passion for storytelling, he started dedicating his evenings and weekends to writing fiction. Fueled by his determination and talent, Follett crafted a gripping World War II thriller, “Eye of the Needle,” which catapulted him to international fame. The novel’s immense success, with over 10 million copies sold, solidified Follett’s position as a bestselling author.

Ken Follett’s masterful storytelling and ability to captivate readers with his thrilling narratives earned him the prestigious Edgar Award for Best Novel. This recognition further propelled his career and established his reputation as a powerful and talented writer. With the success of “Eye of the Needle,” Follett seized the opportunity to devote himself fully to his writing, leading to the publication of numerous highly acclaimed novels that continue to delight readers worldwide.

Through his captivating storytelling, Ken Follett has proven himself to be a true master of the craft. His career beginnings and the success of “Eye of the Needle” set the stage for his subsequent achievements, paving the way for a remarkable journey as one of the world’s most renowned and beloved authors.

Notable Novels and Series

Ken Follett has established himself as a prominent author with a diverse range of notable novels that have captivated readers around the world. His works have gained critical acclaim and achieved commercial success, becoming bestsellers in countries across the globe.

One of Follett’s most famous and enduring works is “The Pillars of the Earth,” first published in 1989. This epic novel, set in medieval times, takes readers on a captivating journey through the construction of a cathedral in a small English village. With its rich historical backdrop and intricate storytelling, “The Pillars of the Earth” has sold over 26 million copies worldwide, solidifying its place as a literary masterpiece.

Continuing the saga, Follett released the sequel, “World Without End,” in 2007. This engrossing novel further explores the lives and trials of the characters introduced in “The Pillars of the Earth,” with interwoven tales of love, power, and ambition against the backdrop of a changing world.

In addition to standalone novels, Follett has also crafted captivating series that have captivated readers and garnered international acclaim. The Century Trilogy is a sweeping epic that spans the 20th century, tracing the destinies of multiple interconnected families through major historical events. The trilogy includes “Fall of Giants” (2010), “Winter of the World” (2012), and “Edge of Eternity” (2014), each offering a riveting portrayal of the tumultuous times in which they are set.

The Century Trilogy and “The Pillars of the Earth” series have cemented Ken Follett’s status as a master storyteller who skillfully combines historical accuracy with compelling narratives, ensuring that readers are captivated from the first page to the last.

Captivating Series and Standalone Novels

NovelPublication YearSynopsisBestseller Rankings
“The Pillars of the Earth”1989An epic tale set in medieval times, following the construction of a cathedral in a small English village.Over 26 million copies sold worldwide
“World Without End”2007A sequel to “The Pillars of the Earth,” delving deeper into the lives and struggles of the characters.Continued chart-topping success
The Century Trilogy2010-2014A sweeping series spanning the 20th century, tracing the intertwined lives of families through historical events.Multi-million copies sold worldwide

Ken Follett’s notable novels and captivating series have enthralled readers with their rich historical detail, intricate plots, and memorable characters. With his unparalleled storytelling ability, Follett continues to dominate bestseller lists and leave a lasting impact on the literary world.

Literary Style and Themes

Ken Follett is a master of literary storytelling, renowned for his captivating prose and meticulous attention to detail in historical fiction. His novels seamlessly blend thrilling elements of espionage and political intrigue with timeless themes of family sagas. With a fast-paced writing style and suspenseful narratives, Follett keeps readers on the edge of their seats from the first page to the last.

One of the defining characteristics of Follett’s works is his exceptional ability to create multi-dimensional characters that readers can deeply connect with. Each character is thoughtfully crafted, displaying their strengths, flaws, and the complexities of their lives. Whether it’s a morally ambiguous spy in a gripping thriller or a noble protagonist embarking on an epic journey through history, Follett’s characters are relatable and compelling.

Themes of loyalty, betrayal, love, and resilience resonate throughout Follett’s novels. His exploration of historical events and their impact on ordinary individuals adds depth and authenticity to his storytelling. From the medieval construction of a cathedral in “The Pillars of the Earth” to the tumultuous backdrop of the World Wars in the Century Trilogy, Follett weaves historical context seamlessly into the fabric of his narratives.

“Follett’s novels are a delightful blend of history, politics, and human drama. His meticulous research and attention to detail create an immersive reading experience that transports readers to different eras, allowing them to witness the trials and triumphs of his characters firsthand.” – Literary Critics

Whether he is writing a historical epic, a political thriller, or a gripping spy novel, Ken Follett’s novels are meticulously researched and rich in historical detail. Readers can immerse themselves in the time period, experiencing the sights, sounds, and emotions of the past. Follett’s storytelling is a testament to his passion for historical accuracy, bringing history to life in a way that is both entertaining and educational.

Influences and Impact

Follett’s literary style draws inspiration from notable authors such as John le Carré, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Victor Hugo. His love for historical events and his passion for storytelling have won him a devoted fan base worldwide. His novels consistently dominate bestseller lists, captivating readers with their gripping narratives and relatable characters.

Follett’s impact as a writer goes beyond entertaining readers. His novels have sparked a renewed interest in historical fiction and prompted many readers to delve into the rich tapestry of world history. Additionally, his philanthropic efforts, such as supporting literacy charities and his dedication to promoting literacy, have further solidified his legacy as a writer committed to making a positive contribution to society.

Key AspectsInfluencesImpact
Literary StyleJohn le Carré, Arthur Conan Doyle, Victor HugoRenewed interest in historical fiction
ThemesVivid historical detailPromotion of literacy and philanthropy
CharacterizationPolitical intrigue and espionageEngaging readers with relatable characters

Ken Follett’s novels continue to captivate readers with their literary style, immersive storytelling, and profound exploration of historical themes. Through his work, he has left an enduring mark on the literary world, inspiring readers and aspiring writers alike.

Adaptations and Other Achievements

Ken Follett’s captivating novels have not only enthralled readers around the world, but they have also found success in the realm of film and television adaptations. His storytelling brilliance and vivid narratives have made his works highly sought-after for on-screen adaptations.

One of his notable adaptations is “Eye of the Needle,” which was successfully brought to life on the silver screen. Additionally, other works such as “The Pillars of the Earth” and “World Without End” were turned into television miniseries, captivating audiences with their intricate plotlines and richly developed characters.

Beyond his immense writing success, Ken Follett has also left a lasting impact on the literary community through his commitment to various literacy charities. For ten years, he served as the president of Dyslexia Action, an organization that supports individuals with dyslexia. Follett has also contributed significantly to the National Year of Reading, a government initiative aimed at promoting literacy and encouraging a love for reading among people of all ages.

Follett’s dedication to literacy goes beyond his writing career, emphasizing the importance of literacy and education in society. By actively participating in these initiatives, he has made a meaningful impact and helped create a positive change in people’s lives.

Personal Life and Interests

Ken Follett’s personal life revolves around his family and his passions. He is married to Barbara Follett, a former Member of Parliament for Stevenage. Together, they have five children, six grandchildren, and three Labradors.

Aside from writing, Follett is an avid music enthusiast and enjoys playing the bass guitar. His love for music is a significant part of his life, providing him with creativity and inspiration. Whether strumming the strings in his downtime or playing with fellow musicians, music allows Follett to unwind and nurture his creative spirit.

Follett and his family reside in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, a town in England known for its rich history and vibrant community. They actively participate in local events and support various initiatives to improve the quality of life in their town.

Ken Follett’s dedication to both his personal and professional life is evident in his contributions to literature and his commitment to promoting literacy. Through his stories and philanthropic efforts, he continues to make a positive impact on individuals and communities worldwide.

Legacy and Awards

Ken Follett has left behind a remarkable literary legacy as a bestselling author. With over 160 million copies of his books sold worldwide, Follett has achieved international recognition and consistently topped bestseller lists. His captivating narratives have resonated with readers of all ages, spanning borders and cultures.

As a testament to his exceptional storytelling, Follett has been the recipient of numerous awards throughout his career. One notable accolade he received is the prestigious Edgar Award for Best Novel, which he garnered for his thrilling masterpiece. This recognition speaks to the quality and craftsmanship of his work, showcasing his ability to craft gripping tales that keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Follett’s novels have captivated readers around the world and left a lasting impression. His extensive body of work reflects his storytelling prowess and his ability to transport readers to different eras and immerse them in richly detailed narratives.

By successfully intertwining historical events with compelling storytelling, Follett has cemented his place as a bestselling author with international acclaim. His novels have captured the hearts and minds of readers, taking them on unforgettable journeys through time and space.

Key Points:

  • Ken Follett is a bestselling author with over 160 million copies sold worldwide.
  • He has consistently topped bestseller lists, earning international recognition.
  • Follett has been awarded the Edgar Award for Best Novel.
  • His novels have captivated readers globally, leaving a lasting impression.


Ken Follett’s journey as an author has been nothing short of remarkable. From his early days as a reporter to his rise as one of the world’s most successful and beloved storytellers, Follett’s literary achievements have left an indelible mark on the literary world. His thrilling novels and masterful historical fiction have captivated readers, transporting them to different eras with engaging storytelling, vivid characters, and meticulously researched settings.

What sets Follett apart is not only his ability to craft gripping narratives but also his dedication to promoting literacy and philanthropy. His contributions to literature have earned him international recognition and a place among the literary icons of our time. With over 160 million copies sold worldwide and multiple bestsellers to his name, Follett’s legacy is firmly established.

But beyond the numbers and accolades, Follett’s impact goes deeper. His commitment to promoting literacy, his involvement in literary charities, and his dedication to philanthropy showcase his belief in the power of words to change lives. Through storytelling, Follett has entertained, educated, and inspired readers around the world, leaving a lasting impression on countless individuals.

In conclusion, Ken Follett’s author biography is a testament to his talent, passion, and unwavering commitment to his craft. As a literary icon, his achievements will continue to resonate for generations to come, and his contributions to literature and literacy will remain a testament to his enduring legacy.


Who is Ken Follett?

Ken Follett is a Welsh author known for his thrilling novels and historical fiction. He has sold over 160 million copies of his works and is considered one of the world’s most successful authors.

What are some of Ken Follett’s notable works?

Ken Follett is known for novels such as “Eye of the Needle,” “The Pillars of the Earth,” and the Century Trilogy, which includes “Fall of Giants,” “Winter of the World,” and “Edge of Eternity.”

How would you describe Ken Follett’s writing style?

Ken Follett’s writing style is fast-paced, suspenseful, and filled with extensive historical detail. He excels at creating multi-layered characters and weaving together complex plotlines.

Have any of Ken Follett’s novels been adapted for film or television?

Yes, several of Ken Follett’s novels, including “Eye of the Needle,” “The Pillars of the Earth,” and “World Without End,” have been adapted for film or television miniseries.

What other achievements does Ken Follett have beyond his writing career?

Ken Follett has been actively involved in various literary charities, serving as the president of Dyslexia Action and chairing the National Year of Reading, a government initiative to promote literacy.

What are Ken Follett’s personal interests?

Ken Follett is an avid music enthusiast and enjoys playing the bass guitar. He resides in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, where he continues to write and be an active member of the local community.

What is Ken Follett’s literary legacy?

Ken Follett is a bestselling author with over 160 million copies of his books sold worldwide. He has received prestigious awards, including the Edgar Award, and his novels have captivated readers around the world.

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