Jeffrey Howard Archer, Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare (born 15 April 1940) is a best-selling English author and former politician whose political career ended with his conviction and subsequent imprisonment (2001-03) for perjury and perverting the course of justice.
Alongside his literary work, Archer was a Member of Parliament (1969-74), and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party (1985-86). He was made a life peer in 1992.
Jeffrey Howard Archer was born in the City of London Maternity Hospital. He was two weeks old when his family moved to the seaside town of Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, where he spent most of his early life. He has an older brother born out of wedlock, also originally called Jeffrey, who was put up for adoption at an early age. The brother assumed the name David Brown and only discovered his relationship to Archer in 1980, even though Archer already apparently knew this, according to the journalist Michael Crick. His father, William (died 1956), was sixty-four when Archer was born. In 1951, he won a scholarship to Wellington School, in Somerset (not to be confused with the public school Wellington College, which is possible from the ambiguous biography in Archer’s earlier books). 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 her son ‘Tuppence’; this caused Archer to be the victim of bullying while at Wellington School.
After Archer left school passing O-levels in English Literature, Art, and History, he worked in a number of jobs, including training with the army and for the police. This lasted only for a few months, but he fared better as a Physical Education teacher; first at Vicar’s Hill, a Prep School in Hampshire where he taught fencing amongst other sports, later at the more prestigious independent school Dover College in Kent. As a teacher he was popular with pupils and was reported by some to have had good motivational skills, helping to instil personal confidence in the less confident.
His first book, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, was picked up by the literary agent Deborah Owen and published first in the US, then eventually in Britain in the Autumn of 1976. The book was an instant success and Archer avoided bankruptcy, never being legally declared bankrupt. A BBC Television adaptation of the book was broadcast in 1990, and a radio adaptation was aired on BBC Radio 4 in the early 1980s.
Kane and Abel proved to be his best-selling work, reaching number one on the New York Times bestsellers list. It was made into a television mini-series by CBS in 1985, starring Peter Strauss and Sam Neill. The following year, Granada TV screened a ten-part adaptation of another Archer bestseller, First Among Equals, which told the story of four men and their quest to become Prime Minister.
Archer states he spends considerable time writing and re-writing each book. He goes abroad to write the first draft, working in blocks of two-hours at a time, then writes anything up to seventeen further drafts. It has been suggested that his books require extensive editing by others to make them readable.
In 2011, Archer published the first of five books in The Clifton Chronicles, which follow the life of Harry Clifton from his birth in 1920, through to the finale in 2020. Only Time Will Tell tells the story of Harry from 1920 through to 1940 and was published in the UK on 12 May 2011. In March 2011 he visited New Zealand as part of a promotional tour. His stops included an interview on Radio Live with hosts Willie Jackson and former-disgraced-MP John Tamihere.
At 29, he was elected Member of Parliament (MP) for the Lincolnshire constituency of Louth, holding the seat for the Conservative Party in a by-election on 4 December 1969. Archer beat Ian Gow to the selection after winning over a substantial proportion of younger members at the selection meeting. The national party had concerns about Archer’s selection, but these were dismissed by the local Conservative association after representatives made a journey to party headquarters to discuss the matter. Archer’s campaign colour was a dayglo orange/pink with a blue arrow; the political parties in Lincolnshire had not yet abandoned local colours, which were different from the party national colours.
Louth constituency had three key areas: Louth, Cleethorpes, and Immingham. During his time as a Member of Parliament, Archer was a regular at the Immingham Conservative Club in the most working-class part of the constituency.
He took part in the "Kennedy Memorial Test" in 1970, a 50 mile running/walking race from Louth to Skegness and back. This raised funds for the building of Louth Swimming Pool, which was subsequently opened by his wife in March 1974.
In Parliament, Archer was on the left of the Conservative Party, rebelling against some of his party’s policies. He urged free TV licences for the elderly and was against museum charges. Archer voted against restoring capital punishment, saying it was barbaric and obscene. In 1971, he employed David Mellor, then needing money for his bar finals, to deal with his correspondence. He tipped Mellor to reach the cabinet. In an interview Archer said, "I hope we don’t return to extremes. I’m what you might call centre-right but I’ve always disliked the right wing as much as I’ve disliked the left wing."
In 1979, Archer purchased the Old Vicarage, Grantchester, a house associated with the poet Rupert Brooke. He also began to hold shepherd’s pie and Krug parties for prominent people at his London apartment, which overlooks the Houses of Parliament.
While he was a witness in the Aquablast case in Toronto in 1977, Archer was accused of taking three suits from a department store, an accusation he denied for many years. However, in the late 1990s, Archer finally acknowledged that he had indeed taken the suits, although he claimed that at the time he had not realised he had left the shop. No charges were brought.
Archer is a lifelong fan of the Bristol Rovers Football Club and as a boy used to dream about being the team’s captain.
Kane & Abel series
Jeffrey Archer – Kane And Abel (read by Jeff Harding)
Jeffrey Archer – The Prodigal Daughter (read by Barbara Rosenblat)
Jeffrey Archer – Shall We Tell The President? (read by Marvin Kane)
The Clifton Chronicles series
Jeffrey Archer – Only Time Will Tell (read by Roger Allam, Emilia Fox)
Jeffrey Archer – The Sins Of The Father (read by Alex Jennings, Emilia Fox)
Jeffrey Archer – Best Kept Secret (read by Alex Jennings)
Jeffrey Archer – Be Careful What You Wish For (read by Alex Jennings)
Jeffrey Archer – Mightier Than The Sword (read by Alex Jennings)
Jeffrey Archer – Cometh The Hour (read by Alex Jennings)
Jeffrey Archer – This Was A Man (read by Alex Jennings)
A Prison Diary series
Jeffrey Archer – Hell (read by Martin Jarvis)
Jeffrey Archer – Twelve Red Herrings (read by Alec McCowen)
Jeffrey Archer – A Twist In The Tale (read by Tony Britton)
Jeffrey Archer – Tell Tale (read by Robert Bathurst)
Jeffrey Archer – Not A Penny More Not A Penny Less (read by Alex Jennings)
Jeffrey Archer – A Prisoner Of Birth (read by Roger Allam)
Jeffrey Archer – A Matter Of Honor (read by Dickens Dell)
Jeffrey Archer – As The Crow Flies (read Simon Prebble, Barbara Rosenblat)
Jeffrey Archer – Sons Of Fortune (read by Paul Michael)
Jeffrey Archer – Honor Among Thieves (read by George Guidall)
Jeffrey Archer – Paths Of Glory (read by Roger Allam)
Jeffrey Archer – First Among Equals (read by Simon Prebble)
Jeffrey Archer – False Impression (read by Byron Jennings)
Jeffrey Archer – The Fourth Estate (read by Simon Prebble)
Jeffrey Archer – The Eleventh Commandment (read by Paul Hecht)
Jeffrey Archer – A Quiver Full Of Arrows (read by Martin Jarvis)
Jeffrey Archer – To Cut A Long Story Short (read by Bill Wallace)
Jeffrey Archer – Cat O’Nine Tales (read by Anton Lesser)
Jeffrey Archer – And Thereby Hangs A Tale (read by Gerard Doyle)
Jeffrey Archer – The Perfect Murder (read by Rosalind Ayres, Martin Jarvis)
Jeffrey Archer – The Gospel According To Judas (read by Desmond Tutu)
Kane & Abel series
The Clifton Chronicles series
A Prison Diary series