My papers are held in a collection at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan, United States. These include outlines, first drafts, notes and correspondence, original manuscripts and copies of early books now out of print.
This came about because Professor Carlos Ramet, now associate dean of SVSU’s College of Arts & Behavioral Sciences, wrote a book about my work, Ken Follett: The Transformation of a Writer.
In 2000 I sent to him the accumulated records of my first 25 years as a writer. Some highlights of the collection include a typescript and published proofs of Storm Island – republished as Eye of the Needle, screenplays I developed for British television, and personal correspondence. This includes letters from Ross Perot during the time I was writing On Wings of Eagles (1983), based on the true story of a daring rescue attempt to free two of Perot’s employees from an Iranian prison during the revolution of 1979.
On 7 December 2004 we had a dedication ceremony and I presented a further document, the annotated first draft of Whiteout, in three ring-binders. In 2008, I donated materials related to more recent works.
The library also has a comprehensive collection of my published works, including rare copies of books and short stories written under the pseudonyms ‘Symon Myles’, ‘Bernard L Ross’ and ‘Martin Martinsen’.
The papers, which total over 60 000 documents, are being digitised and archived by the Melvin J. Zahnow Library at SVSU. In addition to an online research guide, virtual exhibit, and the creative process exhibit, the library has implemented a new system, available at ezahnow.svsu.edu.
Highlights include typed transcriptions of handwritten documents and translations of documents in foreign languages, a tracking map for projects with multiple titles, and a comment page for users. The entire Follett Archives will be fully searchable by keyword and available to students and others wishing to study the making of a best-seller.
The archive has already borne fruit. Carlos Ramet wrote several articles, which were published in academic journals, and which led to a second full-length book, Ken Follett and the Triumph of Suspense. Professor Ramet closely examined drafts and long-out-of-print materials held in the archive, as well as business correspondence and unpublished working documents, and discussed cultural and other influences. The Popular Culture Review stated that “Ramet succeeds in crafting a biography of Follett in which the writing process is examined as well via the life of a literary success story.”
Ken Follett and the Triumph of Suspense is published by McFarland & Company.
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