By: Richard Uzelac
My favorite authors include those who have distinguished themselves in several fields, such as Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain, and Winston Churchill. As writers of significant range and skill, these Renaissance men moved from one topic or style to another with ease. Today, few authors demonstrate this kind of chameleonic ability as well as Ken Follett, one of the world’s most-loved novelists. Best known for his masterpiece, The Pillars of the Earth, Follett also wrote an ambitious body of work that addresses enduring human concerns while capturing the distinctive spirit of each age. Whether his novels take place in the Middle Ages, World War II, or today’s high-tech world, Follett demonstrates the storytelling skills that have sold 130 million copies of his books worldwide.
Born in Wales shortly after World War II, Follett grew up in London as a voracious reader with an active imagination. After writing to supplement his day jobs in journalism and publishing, Follett published his first novel, Eye of the Needle, in 1978. Following his successful debut, Follett wrote several more thrillers, as well as a nonfiction title, before surprising his readers with The Pillars of the Earth, published in 1989. A sprawling historical epic about the construction of a medieval cathedral, The Pillars of the Earth has sold nearly 20 million copies in 30 languages since its publication. Selected as an Oprah’s Book Club pick in 2007, The Pillars of the Earth recently became a star-studded miniseries produced by Ridley Scott. As the author of more than 15 best-selling novels, Follett continues to write fictional works that combine exhaustively researched, historical detail with richly rendered characters, thrilling readers like me with their scope and complexity.