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Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 28 | July 22 , 2007|


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Author Profile

Jeffrey Archer

Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare (born 15 April 1940) is a British best-selling author and politician. He was a member of Parliament and Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, and became a life peer in 1992. His political career, having suffered from several earlier controversies, finally ended after a conviction for perjury and his subsequent imprisonment. He is married to Mary Archer, a scientist specialising in solar power.

Early life
Jeffrey Howard Archer was born in the City of London Maternity Hospital. When he was two weeks old he and his family moved to the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, where he spent most of his young life. In 1951 he won a scholarship to Wellington School, in Somerset. At this time his mother, Lola, contributed a column "Over the teacups" to the local press in Weston-super-Mare and wrote about the adventures of 'tuppence'; this caused Archer to be the victim of bullying while at Wellington School.[1]

Archer left school after passing three O-levels, in English Literature, Art, and History. He worked in a number of jobs, including training with the army and for the police. He lasted only a few months in either position, but he fared very well as a Physical Education teacher at Dover College. As a person and teacher he was very popular with his pupils and was reported to have had very good motivational skills.

Archer seems to be a big fan of interweaving characters; Kane and Abel is the obvious example, where two men, born on different sides of the world in completely opposite surroundings eventually meet in stories which span a lifetime; similar situations occur in Sons of Fortune, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, and The Fourth Estate. He uses this device with heroes and villains, too, as found in As the Crow Flies and First Among Equals.

Archer very often takes his characters from the upper classes of the UK or New England, discussing mannerisms and sensitivities from that layer of society. The majority of his works are set in the U.S..

His "non-epic" works (A Matter of Honour, a chase story, and Shall We Tell the President?, a detective thriller) usually are set within a much shorter time frame and have fewer characters.

Art also is a theme in his works. Several novels and short stories have had a focus around works of art. A Matter of Honour focused around a work of art, plus the secret it held. First Among Equals also featured a work of art as a plot device. Sons of Fortune had one main character collecting "Painted Mistresses", and As the Crow Flies featured an art expert and a collector of art as main characters. In Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less the victim of the con game buys a fake Van Gogh picture as one of the schemes to get even with the man the protagonists were defrauded by. A Van Gogh painting is at the centre of False Impression while the short story "Not for Sale" is centred around a talented young artist having her first exhibition. Additionally, the short story "Chalk and Cheese" centred on the differing lives of two brothers, one of whom was an artist, and the other of whom was an art collector. Archer's love of art was revealed in his Prison Diaries, where he talked about how he tried to buy a Botero from another inmate.

The other prevailing theme among Archer's works is his twist endings. It happens in his thrillers, his novels, and his short stories. For example, in his short story "Just Good Friends" the first-person narrative describes somebody who went home with a man she met in a pub, and has stayed with him ever since. Her own life was that of abandonment by her mother (who only left her a fur coat), impregnation by somebody whom she never saw again, her children being taken away by the authorities, and never telling anything to the man she is living with. She also doesn't respond to the alarm clock, letting the man get up and prepare food for her. Only at the end of the story is it revealed that the narrator is a cat.

Archer in fiction
Jeffrey Archer was satirically portrayed as a much-misunderstood secret agent, saviour of Britain and mankind and "overall thoroughly good chap" by actor Damian Lewis in the BBC drama Jeffrey Archer: The Truth (2006)[18], which received strong reviews. Script writer Guy Jenkin explained that "my Jeffrey Archer is the man who has frequently saved Britain over the last 30 years. He's beloved of all women he comes across, all men, all dogs - he's a superhero."


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