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 executive assistant to the university’s president, 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.
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 are being digitised and archived. There is an exhibition in the university’s new library building of some of the items, and others are available to students in a virtual exhibition.
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.
All these papers, which total over 60 000 documents and are housed in the Melvin J. Zahnow Library in 168 boxes, are available to students wishing to study the making of a best-seller.
The archive has already borne fruit in the form of a learned article published in The Michigan Academician. Carlos Ramet wrote an article entitled: “Ken Follett’s On Wings of Eagles: Narrative Negotiation of ‘True Story’ Fiction”. Professor Ramet closely examined drafts of the book held in the archive, as well as correspondence between myself and Ross Perot.
The article assesses the book’s claim to be a true story and asks whether it is in any way fictionalized. It also evaluates criticisms that the content of the book was controlled by Perot. The Michigan Academician is published by the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters.
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