University of Hertfordshire awards Ken an honorary doctorate
The honour was given at a ceremony on September 11 at St Albans Abbey in recognition of Ken's contribution to literature and the promotion of literacy.
Ken, pictured above with Chair of the University of Hertfordshire's Board of Governors, Richard Beazley, said: “I am proud to receive this honour from the University of Hertfordshire, which is in the county that has been my home for over 20 years."
As a resident of Hertfordshire, Ken actively supports several local and national charities. In 1990 he set up The Follett Trust, which awards grants and scholarships to students in higher education, organisations involved in community work and the arts, and supports the promotion of reading among those with dyslexia. Last year the trust awarded £160 000 in grants.
"Reading is something that should be accessible to all and I thoroughly enjoy working with some fantastic local and national organisations to help make that a reality," Ken said.
Picture courtesy of the University of Hertfordshire.
Ken appointed a Commander of the British Empire
Ken was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s Birthday 2018 Honours List. His appointment, announced on Friday 8th June, is for his services to literature and charity.
“I am very pleased and proud to receive this honour for doing something I love – making books and stories as entertaining and accessible as possible," Ken said. "Reading is a hugely important part of my life and I am glad to have helped others to enjoy it too.”
Ken is one of the world’s most successful authors. Over 165 million copies of the 31 books he has written have been sold in over 80 countries and in 33 languages.
Ken has been active in numerous literacy charities and was president of Dyslexia Action for ten years. He was chair of the National Year of Reading, a joint initiative between government and businesses. He is also active in many Stevenage charities and is President of the Stevenage Community Trust. Ken also set up The Follett Trust, in 1990, which awards single donations to the arts and in cases of social deprivation and education.
Ken will be invited to attend an Investiture Ceremony this summer to receive the Insignia of the order.
Ken elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature
Ken Follett was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (RSL) on Monday 4 June 2018 when he signed its historic, leather-bound, Roll Book at the RSL’s Summer Party at The Bloomsbury Hotel in London.
This unique literary honour, which the RSL has given to distinguished writers since its foundation in 1820, means Ken joins literary greats like Thomas Hardy, J.R.R Tolkien and J.K Rowling as a lifetime Fellow.
“I am delighted to have been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature," Ken said. "I am very pleased to join an esteemed group in the Fellowship of such a renowned and valuable institution.”
Part Three of The Pillars of the Earth video game is out now
Daedalic Entertainment has announced that Eye of the Storm, the third and final part of the interactive edition of The Pillars of the Earth, is now available. Those who bought Book 1 – From the Ashes, and Book 2 – Sowing the Wind, will automatically have access to Book 3 at no additional cost. Anyone who has yet to buy the game can download all three Books for $29,99 on Steam/GOG or $39,99 on console. The game can be bought and downloaded from the PlayStation Store, Steam Store, Xbox Store or your favourite online store.
Daedalic Entertainment is part of Bastei Lübbe, publishers of the German editions of Ken’s books.
A Column of Fire
Ken's most recent novel, A Column of Fire, forms part of the 'Kingsbridge' series, with The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. It was published in September 2017.
"It is a spy story set in the sixteenth century, during the reign of Elizabeth I of England." Ken says." There were many assassination plots against the Queen, so the people around her set up an espionage system to foil those sixteenth century terrorists. This was the beginning of the British secret service that eventually gave us James Bond."
A master storyteller renowned for his meticulous research, Ken delved deep into the history books when writing his latest work.“I used 228 books in my research for A Column of Fire. From the rigid framework of names and dates, battles and assassinations and massacres to details of underwear, cutlery, coins, toilets, hairdressing, shops and booze – they were vital for getting the details right.”
“How far can a horse go in a day? I found out from Horse & Man in Early Modern England. What were guns like in the sixteenth century? See Firearms: A Global History to 1700. Had forks been invented then? I found a French book Festins de la Renaissance: Cuisine et Tresors de la table with lots of pictures.”
Ken also turned to Shakespeare, who was writing during the time of A Column of Fire, for some of the more specific details in the book, such the various illness’ of horses (a useful list in The Taming of the Shrew) and sixteenth century food (Falstaff’s gargantuan appetites).
“Readers enjoy interesting background detail, but it has to be accurate, and I couldn’t manage that without history books," Ken added. Hundreds of historians have toiled all their lives to make it easier for me, and I raise a glass to them in gratitude for their work.”
A Column of Fire begins in 1558 where the ancient stones of Kingsbridge Cathedral look down on a city torn apart by religious conflict. As power in England shifts precariously between Catholics and Protestants, high principles clash bloodily with friendship, loyalty, and love.
Ned Willard wants nothing more than to marry Margery Fitzgerald. But when the lovers find themselves on opposing sides of the religious divide sweeping across the country, Ned goes to work for Princess Elizabeth. When she becomes queen, all Europe turns against England.
The shrewd, determined young monarch sets up the country’s first secret service, to give her early warning of assassination plots, rebellions and invasion plans. Over a turbulent half-century, the love between Ned and Margery seems doomed, as extremism sparks violence from Edinburgh to Geneva. Elizabeth clings precariously to her throne and her principles, protected by a small, dedicated group of resourceful spies and courageous secret agents.
The real enemies, then as now, are not the rival religions. The true battle pitches those who believe in tolerance and compromise against the tyrants who would impose their ideas on everyone else—no matter what the cost.
Set during one of the most turbulent and revolutionary times in history, A Column of Fire is one of Ken’s most exciting and ambitious works yet, and is perfect both for long-time fans of the Kingsbridge series as well as new readers.
Much of the novel is set in Kingsbridge, but part of the action takes place in Seville, Spain.
Italian edition of 'Bad Faith' now available
An Italian edition of 'Bad Faith', in which Ken describes his upbringing in the puritan Plymouth Bretheren and subsequent relationship with religion, is available in print and as an e-book from Edizioni Dehoniane Bologna. 'Bad Faith' first appeared in Granta magazine.
L’essere nato in una famiglia gallese appartenente a una denominazione protestante particolarmente rigorosa ha segnato in maniera indelebile il rapporto di Ken Follett con la religione. Il giovane Ken iniziò a trasgredire le ferree regole del puritanesimo non appena possibile. Questa la cattiva fede, bad faith, che caratterizza la sua giovinezza e che è stata raccontata in questo libro. Sarà all’università, dopo il confronto con Platone, Cartesio, Marx e Wittgenstein, che si ritroverà infine ateo, anzi, ateo arrabbiato. Ma qualcosa ultimamente è cambiato…
Il volume è disponibile anche in e-book italiano-inglese e solo inglese.
My medical research
Medical emergencies are wonderfully dramatic, but you have to get the facts right.
World Without End in particular has several hospital scenes. The story is about the Black Death, a medieval plague that killed at least one in three people in Europe and North Africa, and led to the beginnings of modern medicine.
I also think the birth of a child is one of the most emotional and scary events in anyone’s life. It’s normally painful, sometimes dangerous, often joyous, and I’ve written each kind of scene.
You don’t just need a doctor, you need one who can explain the facts and procedures in clear language and help you to write the kind of scene you want without making mistakes. I rely on my stepdaughter Kim Turner, who is thanked on the acknowledgements pages of most of my books. She’s an obstetrician, so my childbirth scenes should be very accurate; but like all doctors she’s able to deal with every kind of crisis.
In my new book A Column of Fire, out in September 2017, the queen of France has trouble getting pregnant. The historians don’t actually know why, so I made something up — with Dr Kim’s help.
As well as working with me she acts as a consultant on television dramas. She sometimes gets paid more for helping actors pretend to be doctors than she does for saving the lives of mothers and babies in real life. There’s an irony.
Bastei Lübbe signs long-term collaboration with Ken
Ken has signed a two-book contract with Bastei Lübbe AG, for novels due in 2020 and 2023.
“We are proud and happy to have this opportunity to continue working with Ken Follett, with whom we have enjoyed a friendly relationship for many years. He is more than just a world-class writer. For decades now he has also been one of the Bastei Lübbe Group’s most successful and notable authors”, says CEO Thomas Schierack.
The Cologne media conglomerate has a long history with Ken. Since 1979, all German-language editions of his novels have been published by Bastei Lübbe, including classics such as Eye of the Needle, The Pillars of the Earth and the Century Trilogy.
A Dangerous Fortune mini-series
A Dangerous Fortune, a saga of love, power and revenge set amid the wealth and decadence of Victorian England, has been filmed as a two-part series.
The 180-minute drama is directed by Christian Schwochow (West, Open the Wall, The Tower), and stars Dominic Thorburn, Laura de Boer, Jeanette Hain (The Reader), Maria Dragus (The White Ribbon), Luca Marinelli (The Great Beauty) and David Bennent (Tin Drum). It is produced by Constantin Television for ZDF.
It was aired at Mipcom, the TV market that took place in Cannes between 5 and 8 October.