Before Ken Follett burst onto the book world in 1978 with Eye of the Needle, he was a little-known novelist who had written ten books, all under pseudonyms, in his spare time. Eye of the Needle became an international bestseller, won the Edgar Award, and was made into a major film starring Kate Nelligan and Donald Sutherland.
The critical and popular success of that novel and its follow-ups, Triple (1979), The Key to Rebecca (1980), The Man from St. Petersburg (1982), and Lie Down with Lions (1986), moved Follett to the forefront of the world's espionage novelists. The Key to Rebecca was made into a mini-series starring Cliff Robertson and David Soul. Follett's first nonfiction venture, On Wings of Eagles (1983), an account of the 1978 rescue of two American business executives employed by Ross Perot, became a huge bestseller and was made into a mini-series with Richard Crenna and Burt Lancaster.
Follett then surprised readers by radically changing course with The Pillars of the Earth , a novel about the building of a cathedral in the middle ages. Published in September 1989 to rave reviews, it was on The New York Times best-seller list for eighteen weeks, substantially outselling Follett's previous hardcover books. The Pillars of the Earth also reached the #1 position on lists in Canada, Great Britain, and Italy, and it was on the German bestseller list for two years.
Although he has abandoned the straightforward spy genre, Follett's novels are still characterized by suspense, intrigue, strong female characters, and a commanding narrative. Following Pillars , his next novel, Night Over Water (1991), took place in 1939 aboard a trans-Atlantic flying boat, while his 1993 bestseller, A Dangerous Fortune , a turn-of-the-century murder mystery, centered around the rise and fall of a powerful Victorian banking family.
Ken Follett lives in Chelsea, London, in a 200-year-old house overlooking the River Thames, with his wife, Barbara. He is a lover of Shakespeare and an enthusiastic amateur musician who plays bass guitar in a blues band. He is also passionately involved in politics (although he wrote a book with Ross Perot, Follett is a committed liberal), and authored a pamphlet about injustice in the British immigration laws. His wife is currently running for a seat in the British Parliament.