Bestselling Knebworth author given academic honour

Ken Follett (left) with Chair of the University of Hertfordshire's Board of Governors, Richard Beazl

Ken Follett (left) with Chair of the University of Hertfordshire's Board of Governors, Richard Beazley. Picture: supplied by the University of Hertfordshire - Credit: supplied by the University of Hertfordshire

Internationally acclaimed author Ken Follett has received an honorary doctorate from the University of Hertfordshire.

The honour was given in a ceremony today (September 11) at St Albans Abbey in recognition of his contribution to literature and the promotion of literacy.

The writer, who lives in Knebworth, said: “I am proud to receive this honour from the University of Hertfordshire, the county that has been my home for over 20 years.

“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,” said Ken.

More than 160 million copies of his 31 books have been sold in more than 80 countries and in 33 languages.

Ken attributes his passion for writing to his love of books as a child, which was sparked by stories his mother used to tell him. Among his particular favourites were Enid Blyton’s ‘Famous Five’ and ‘Secret Seven’ series.

He read philosophy at University College London and following his graduation, Ken became a reporter for his local newspaper, the South Wales Echo, and later, for the London Evening News.

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In 1974 his first novel, ‘The Big Needle’, was published under the name Simon Myles.

After publishing ‘The Modigliani Scandal’ in 1976 he wrote ‘The Modigliani Scandal’ he left journalism and to work in publishing.

When the World War Two thriller ‘Eye of the Needle’ was published in 1978, it sold 10million copies and eared Ken the 1979 Edgar Award for Best Novel from the Mystery Writers of America.

Shortly afterwards, it was made into a film starring Donald Sutherland and Kate Nelligan.

Since that time, the popularity of Ken’s books has continued to grow, and all of his subsequent titles have become bestsellers, many of which have been adapted for the screen, either as films or as mini-series.

As a resident in Hertfordshire, Ken actively supports a number of 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, the arts, and supports the promotion of reading among those with dyslexia.

Last year the trust awarded £160,000 in grants.

In June this year, Ken was made a CBE for services to literature and charity and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.