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And Thereby Hangs A Tale - Jeffrey Archer

And Thereby Hangs A Tale

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Story telling of the highest calibre

Millions of readers around the world have relished Jeffrey Archer's short stories. Taking inspiration from his favourite short story writers - F. Scott Fitzgerald, Maupassant, H. H. Munro, W. Somerset Maugham and O. Henry.

Jeffrey has a natural aptitude for short stories which are stylish, witty and entertaining. His mastery of characterisation and suspense, combined with a gift for the unexpected, jaw-dropping plot twist, show him at the height of his powers and demonstrate why he is one of Britain's best-selling authors.

All of Jeffrey's collections of short stories have been top ten best sellers and he is undoubtedly the best selling English-language short story writer of our times.

About the Author

Jeffrey Archer, whose novels and short stories include Kane and Abel, A Prisoner of Birth and Cat O' Nine Tales, has topped the bestseller lists around the world, with sales of over 270 million copies. He is the only author ever to have been a number one bestseller in fiction (sixteen times), short stories (four times) and non-fiction (The Prison Diaries). The author is married with two sons and lives in London and Cambridge.


Jeremy looked across the table at Arabella and still
couldn’t believe she had agreed to be his wife. He was the
luckiest man in the world.

She was giving him the shy smile that had so entranced him
the first time they met, when a waiter appeared by his side.
‘I’ll have an espresso,’ said Jeremy, ‘and my fiancee’ – it still
sounded strange to him – ‘will have a mint tea.’

‘Very good, sir.’

Jeremy tried to stop himself looking around the room full
of ‘at home’ people who knew exactly where they were and
what was expected of them, whereas he had never visited the
Ritz before. It became clear from the waves and blown kisses
from customers who flitted in and out of the morning room
that Arabella knew everyone, from the maiˆtre d’ to several of
‘the set’, as she often referred to them. Jeremy sat back and
tried to relax.

They’d first met at Ascot. Arabella was inside the royal
enclosure looking out, while Jeremy was on the outside, looking
in; that was how he’d assumed it would always be, until she
gave him that beguiling smile as she strolled out of the enclosure
and whispered as she passed him, ‘Put your shirt on
Trumpeter.’ She then disappeared off in the direction of the
private boxes.

Jeremy took her advice, and placed twenty pounds on
Trumpeter – double his usual wager – before returning to the
stands to see the horse romp home at 5–1. He hurried back to
the royal enclosure to thank her, at the same time hoping she
might give him another tip for the next race, but she was
nowhere to be seen. He was disappointed, but still placed fifty
pounds of his winnings on a horse the Daily Express tipster
fancied. It turned out to be a nag that would be described in
tomorrow’s paper as an ‘also-ran’.

Jeremy returned to the royal enclosure for a third time in
the hope of seeing her again. He searched the paddock full of
elegant men dressed in morning suits with little enclosure
badges hanging from their lapels, all looking exactly like each
other. They were accompanied by wives and girlfriends adorned
in designer dresses and outrageous hats, desperately trying not
to look like anyone else. Then he spotted her, standing next to
a tall, aristocratic-looking man who was bending down and
listening intently to a jockey dressed in red-and-yellow hooped
silks. She didn’t appear to be interested in their conversation
and began to look around. Her eyes settled on Jeremy and he
received that same friendly smile once again. She whispered
something to the tall man, then walked across the enclosure to
join him at the railing.

‘I hope you took my advice,’ she said.

‘Sure did,’ said Jeremy. ‘But how could you be so confident?’

‘It’s my father’s horse.’

‘Should I back your father’s horse in the next race?’

‘Certainly not. You should never bet on anything unless
you’re sure it’s a certainty. I hope you won enough to take me
to dinner tonight?’

If Jeremy didn’t reply immediately, it was only because he
couldn’t believe he’d heard her correctly. He eventually stammered
out, ‘Where would you like to go?’

‘The Ivy, eight o’clock. By the way, my name’s Arabella
Warwick.’ Without another word she turned on her heel and
went back to join her set.

Jeremy was surprised Arabella had given him a second look,
let alone suggested they should dine together that evening. He
expected that nothing would come of it, but as she’d already
paid for dinner, he had nothing to lose.

Arabella arrived a few minutes after the appointed hour,
and when she entered the restaurant, several pairs of male eyes
followed her progress as she made her way to Jeremy’s table.
He had been told they were fully booked until he mentioned
her name. Jeremy rose from his place long before she joined
him. She took the seat opposite him as a waiter appeared by
her side.

‘The usual, madam?’

She nodded, but didn’t take her eyes off Jeremy.

By the time her Bellini had arrived, Jeremy had begun to
relax a little. She listened intently to everything he had to say,
laughed at his jokes, and even seemed to be interested in his
work at the bank. Well, he had slightly exaggerated his position
and the size of the deals he was working on.

After dinner, which was a little more expensive than he’d
anticipated, he drove her back to her home in Pavilion Road,
and was surprised when she invited him in for coffee, and even
more surprised when they ended up in bed.

Jeremy had never slept with a woman on a first date before.
He could only assume that it was what ‘the set’ did, and when
he left the next morning, he certainly didn’t expect ever to hear
from her again. But she called that afternoon and invited him
over for supper at her place. From that moment, they hardly
spent a day apart during the next month.

What pleased Jeremy most was that Arabella didn’t seem to
mind that he couldn’t afford to take her to her usual haunts,
and appeared quite happy to share a Chinese or Indian meal
when they went out for dinner, often insisting that they split
the bill. But he didn’t believe it could last, until one night she
said, ‘You do realize I’m in love with you, don’t you, Jeremy?’

Jeremy had never expressed his true feelings for Arabella.
He’d assumed their relationship was nothing more than what
her set would describe as a fling. Not that she’d ever introduced
him to anyone from her set. When he fell on one knee and
proposed to her on the dance floor at Annabel’s, he couldn’t
believe it when she said yes.

‘I’ll buy a ring tomorrow,’ he said, trying not to think about
the parlous state of his bank account, which had turned a
deeper shade of red since he’d met Arabella.

‘Why bother to buy one, when you can steal the best there
is?’ she said.

Jeremy burst out laughing, but it quickly became clear
Arabella wasn’t joking. That was the moment he should have
walked away, but he realized he couldn’t if it meant losing
her. He knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with this
beautiful and intoxicating woman, and if stealing a ring was
what it took, it seemed a small price to pay.

‘What type shall I steal?’ he asked, still not altogether sure
that she was serious.

‘The expensive type,’ she replied. ‘In fact, I’ve already
chosen the one I want.’ She passed him a De Beers catalogue.
‘Page forty-three,’ she said. ‘It’s called the Kandice Diamond.’

‘But have you worked out how I’m going to steal it?’ asked
Jeremy, studying a photograph of the faultless yellow diamond.

‘Oh, that’s the easy part, darling,’ she said. ‘All you’ll have
to do is follow my instructions.’

Jeremy didn’t say a word until she’d finished outlining her
plan.

That’s how he had ended up in the Ritz that morning,
wearing his only tailored suit, a pair of Links cufflinks, a Cartier
Tank watch and an old Etonian tie, all of which belonged to
Arabella’s father.

‘I’ll have to return everything by tonight,’ she said, ‘otherwise
Pa might miss them and start asking questions.’

‘Of course,’ said Jeremy, who was enjoying becoming
acquainted with the trappings of the rich, even if it was only a
fleeting acquaintance.

The waiter returned, carrying a silver tray. Neither of them
spoke as he placed a cup of mint tea in front of Arabella and a
pot of coffee on Jeremy’s side of the table.

‘Will there be anything else, sir?’

‘No, thank you,’ said Jeremy with an assurance he’d
acquired during the past month.

‘Do you think you’re ready?’ asked Arabella, her knee
brushing against the inside of his leg while she once again gave
him the smile that had so captivated him at Ascot.

‘I’m ready,’ said Jeremy, trying to sound convincing.

‘Good. I’ll wait here until you return, darling.’ That same
smile. ‘You know how much this means to me.’

Jeremy nodded, rose from his place and, without another
word, walked out of the morning room, across the corridor,
through the swing doors and out on to Piccadilly. He placed a
stick of chewing gum in his mouth, hoping it would help him
to relax. Normally Arabella would have disapproved, but on this
occasion she had recommended it. He stood nervously on the
pavement and waited for a gap to appear in the traffic, then
nipped across the road, coming to a halt outside De Beers, the
largest diamond merchant in the world. This was his last chance
to walk away. He knew he should take it, but just the thought
of her made it impossible.

He rang the doorbell, which made him aware that his palms
were sweating. Arabella had warned him that you couldn’t just
stroll into De Beers as if it was a supermarket, and that if they
didn’t like the look of you, they would not even open the door.
That was why he had been measured for his first hand-tailored
suit and acquired a new silk shirt, and was wearing Arabella’s
father’s watch, cufflinks and old Etonian tie. ‘The tie will ensure
that the door is opened immediately,’ Arabella had told him,
‘and once they spot the watch and the cufflinks, you’ll be
invited into the private salon, because by then they’ll be convinced
you’re one of the rare people who can afford their
wares.’

Arabella turned out to be correct, because when the doorman
appeared, he took one look at Jeremy and immediately
unlocked the door.

‘Good morning, sir. How may I help you?’

‘I was hoping to buy an engagement ring.’

‘Of course, sir. Please step inside.’

Jeremy followed him down a long corridor, glancing at
photographs on the walls that depicted the history of the
company since its foundation in 1888. Once they had reached
the end of the corridor, the doorman melted away, to be
replaced by a tall, middle-aged man wearing a well-cut dark
suit, a white silk shirt and a black tie.

‘Good morning, sir,’ he said, giving a slight bow. ‘My
name is Crombie,’ he added, before ushering Jeremy into his
private lair. Jeremy walked into a small, well-lit room. In the
centre was an oval table covered in a black velvet cloth, with
comfortable-looking leather chairs on either side. The assistant
waited until Jeremy had sat down before he took the seat
opposite him.

‘Would you care for some coffee, sir?’ Crombie enquired
solicitously.

‘No, thank you,’ said Jeremy, who had no desire to hold up
proceedings any longer than necessary, for fear he might lose
his nerve.

‘And how may I help you today, sir?’ Crombie asked, as if
Jeremy were a regular customer.

‘I’ve just become engaged...’

‘Many congratulations, sir.’

‘Thank you,’ said Jeremy, beginning to feel a little more
relaxed. ‘I’m looking for a ring, something a bit special,’ he
added, still sticking to the script.

‘You’ve certainly come to the right place, sir,’ said Crombie,
and pressed a button under the table.

The door opened immediately, and a man in an identical
dark suit, white shirt and dark tie entered the room.

‘The gentleman would like to see some engagement rings,
Partridge.’

‘Yes, of course, Mr Crombie,’ replied the porter, and disappeared
as quickly as he had arrived.

‘Good weather for this time of year,’ said Crombie as he
waited for the porter to reappear.

‘Not bad,’ said Jeremy.

‘No doubt you’ll be going to Wimbledon, sir.’

‘Yes, we’ve got tickets for the women’s semi-finals,’ said
Jeremy, feeling rather pleased with himself, remembering that
he’d strayed off script.

A moment later, the door opened and the porter reappeared
carrying a large oak box which he placed reverentially in the
centre of the table, before leaving without uttering a word.
Crombie waited until the door had closed before selecting a
small key from a chain that hung from the waistband of his
trousers, unlocking the box and opening the lid slowly to reveal
three rows of assorted gems that took Jeremy’s breath away.
Definitely not the sort of thing he was used to seeing in the
window of his local H. Samuel.

It was a few moments before he fully recovered, and then
he remembered Arabella telling him he would be presented
with a wide choice of stones so the salesman could estimate his
price range without having to ask him directly.

Jeremy studied the box’s contents intently, and after some
thought selected a ring from the bottom row with three perfectly
cut small emeralds set proud on a gold band.

‘Quite beautiful,’ said Jeremy as he studied the stones more
carefully. ‘What is the price of this ring?’

‘One hundred and twenty-four thousand, sir,’ said Crombie,
as if the amount was of little consequence.

Jeremy placed the ring back in the box, and turned his
attention to the row above. This time he selected a ring with a
circle of sapphires on a white-gold band. He removed it from
the box and pretended to study it more closely before asking
the price.

‘Two hundred and sixty-nine thousand pounds,’ replied the
same unctuous voice, accompanied by a smile that suggested
the customer was heading in the right direction.

Jeremy replaced the ring and turned his attention to a large
single diamond that lodged alone in the top row, leaving no
doubt of its superiority. He removed it and, as with the others,
studied it closely. ‘And this magnificent stone,’ he said, raising
an eyebrow. ‘Can you tell me a little about its provenance?’

‘I can indeed, sir,’ said Crombie. ‘It’s a flawless, eighteenpoint-
four carat cushion-cut yellow diamond that was recently
extracted from our Rhodes mine. It has been certified by the
Gemmological Institute of America as a Fancy Intense Yellow,
and was cut from the original stone by one of our master
craftsmen in Amsterdam. The stone has been set on a platinum
band. I can assure sir that it is quite unique, and therefore
worthy of a unique lady.’

Jeremy had a feeling that Mr Crombie might just have
delivered that line before. ‘No doubt there’s a quite unique
price to go with it.’ He handed the ring to Crombie, who
placed it back in the box.

‘Eight hundred and fifty-four thousand pounds,’ he said in
a hushed voice.

‘Do you have a loupe?’ asked Jeremy. ‘I’d like to study the
stone more closely.’ Arabella had taught him the word diamond
merchants use when referring to a small magnifying glass,
assuring him that it would make him sound as if he regularly
frequented such establishments.

‘Yes, of course, sir,’ said Crombie, pulling open a drawer on
his side of the table and extracting a small tortoiseshell loupe.
When he looked back up, there was no sign of the Kandice
Diamond, just a gaping space in the top row of the box.

‘Do you still have the ring?’ he asked, trying not to sound
concerned.

‘No,’ said Jeremy. ‘I handed it back to you a moment ago.’

Without another word, the assistant snapped the box closed
and pressed the button below his side of the table. This time
he didn’t indulge in any small talk while he waited. A moment
later, two burly, flat-nosed men who looked as if they’d be
more at home in a boxing ring than De Beers entered the
room. One remained by the door while the other stood a few
inches behind Jeremy.

‘Perhaps you’d be kind enough to return the ring,’ said
Crombie in a firm, flat, unemotional voice.

‘I’ve never been so insulted,’ said Jeremy, trying to sound
insulted.

‘I’m going to say this only once, sir. If you return the ring,
we will not press charges, but if you do not—’

‘And I’m going to say this only once,’ said Jeremy, rising
from his seat. ‘The last time I saw the ring was when I handed
it back to you.’

Jeremy turned to leave, but the man behind him placed a
hand firmly on his shoulder and pushed him back down into
the chair. Arabella had promised him there would be no rough
stuff as long as he cooperated and did exactly what they told
him. Jeremy remained seated, not moving a muscle. Crombie
rose from his place and said, ‘Please follow me.’

One of the heavyweights opened the door and led Jeremy
out of the room, while the other remained a pace behind him.
At the end of the corridor they stopped outside a door marked

‘Private’. The first guard opened the door and they entered
another room which once again contained only one table, but
this time it wasn’t covered in a velvet cloth. Behind it sat a man
who looked as if he’d been waiting for them. He didn’t invite
Jeremy to sit, as there wasn’t another chair in the room.

‘My name is Granger,’ the man said without expression.
‘I’ve been the head of security at De Beers for the past fourteen
years, having previously served as a detective inspector with the
Metropolitan Police. I can tell you there’s nothing I haven’t
seen, and no story I haven’t heard before. So do not imagine
even for one moment that you’re going to get away with this,
young man.’

How quickly the fawning sir had been replaced by the
demeaning young man, thought Jeremy.

Granger paused to allow the full weight of his words to sink
in. ‘First, I am obliged to ask if you are willing to assist me with
my inquiries, or whether you would prefer us to call in the
police, in which case you will be entitled to have a solicitor
present.’

‘I have nothing to hide,’ said Jeremy haughtily, ‘so naturally
I’m happy to cooperate.’ Back on script.

‘In that case,’ said Granger, ‘perhaps you’d be kind enough
to take off your shoes, jacket and trousers.’

Jeremy kicked off his loafers, which Granger picked up and
placed on the table. He then removed his jacket and handed it
to Granger as if he was his valet. After taking off his trousers
he stood there, trying to look appalled at the treatment he was
being subjected to.

Granger spent some considerable time pulling out every
pocket of Jeremy’s suit, then checking the lining and the seams.
Having failed to come up with anything other than a handkerchief
– there was no wallet, no credit card, nothing that could
identify the suspect, which made him even more suspicious –

Granger placed the suit back on the table. ‘Your tie?’ he said,
still sounding calm.

Jeremy undid the knot, pulled off the old Etonian tie and
put it on the table. Granger ran the palm of his right hand
across the blue stripes, but again, nothing. ‘Your shirt.’ Jeremy
undid the buttons slowly, then handed his shirt over. He stood
there shivering in just his pants and socks.

As Granger checked the shirt, for the first time the hint of
a smile appeared on his lined face when he touched the collar.
He pulled out two silver Tiffany collar stiffeners. Nice touch,
Arabella, thought Jeremy as Granger placed them on the table,
unable to mask his disappointment. He handed the shirt back
to Jeremy, who replaced the collar stiffeners before putting his
shirt and tie back on.

‘Your underpants, please.’

Jeremy pulled down his pants and passed them across.
Another inspection which he knew would reveal nothing.
Granger handed them back and waited for him to pull them up
before saying, ‘And finally your socks.’

Jeremy pulled off his socks and laid them out on the table.
Granger was now looking a little less sure of himself, but he
still checked them carefully before turning his attention to
Jeremy’s loafers. He spent some time tapping, pushing and
even trying to pull them apart, but there was nothing to be
found. To Jeremy’s surprise, he once again asked him to remove
his shirt and tie. When he’d done so, Granger came around
from behind the table and stood directly in front of him. He
raised both his hands, and for a moment Jeremy thought the
man was going to hit him. Instead, he pressed his fingers into
Jeremy’s scalp and ruffled his hair the way his father used to do
when he was a child, but all he ended up with was greasy nails
and a few stray hairs for his trouble.

‘Raise your arms,’ he barked. Jeremy held his arms high in
the air, but Granger found nothing under his armpits. He then
stood behind Jeremy. ‘Raise one leg,’ he ordered. Jeremy raised
his right leg. There was nothing taped underneath the heel,
and nothing between the toes. ‘The other leg,’ said Granger,
but he ended up with the same result. He walked round to face
him once again. ‘Open your mouth.’ Jeremy opened wide as if
he was in the dentist’s chair. Granger shone a pen-torch around
his cavities, but didn’t find so much as a gold tooth. He could
not hide his discomfort as he asked Jeremy to accompany him
to the room next door.

‘May I put my clothes back on?’

‘No, you may not,’ came back the immediate reply.

Jeremy followed him into the next room, feeling apprehensive
about what torture they had in store for him. A man in a
long white coat stood waiting next to what looked like a sun
bed. ‘Would you be kind enough to lie down so that I can take
an X-ray?’ he asked.

‘Happily,’ said Jeremy, and climbed on to the machine.
Moments later there was a click and the two men studied the
results on a screen. Jeremy knew it would reveal nothing.
Swallowing the Kandice Diamond had never been part of their
plan.

‘Thank you,’ said the man in the white coat courteously, and
Granger added reluctantly, ‘You can get dressed now.’

Once Jeremy had his new school tie on, he followed
Granger back into the interrogation room, where Crombie and
the two guards were waiting for them.

‘I’d like to leave now,’ Jeremy said firmly.

Granger nodded, clearly unwilling to let him go, but he no
longer had any excuse to hold him. Jeremy turned to face
Crombie, looked him straight in the eye and said, ‘You’ll be
hearing from my solicitor.’ He thought he saw him grimace.
Arabella’s script had been flawless.

The two flat-nosed guards escorted him off the premises,
looking disappointed that he hadn’t tried to escape. As Jeremy
stepped back out on to the crowded Piccadilly pavement, he
took a deep breath and waited for his heartbeat to return to
something like normal before crossing the road. He then
strolled confidently back into the Ritz and took his seat opposite
Arabella.

‘Your coffee’s gone cold, darling,’ she said, as if he’d just
been to the loo. ‘Perhaps you should order another.’

‘Same again,’ said Jeremy when the waiter appeared by his
side.

‘Any problems?’ whispered Arabella once the waiter was
out of earshot.

‘No,’ said Jeremy, suddenly feeling guilty, but at the same
time exhilarated. ‘It all went to plan.’

‘Good,’ said Arabella. ‘So now it’s my turn.’ She rose from
her seat and said, ‘Better give me the watch and the cufflinks.
I’ll need to put them back in Daddy’s room before we meet up
this evening.’

Jeremy reluctantly unstrapped the watch, took out the
cufflinks and handed them to Arabella. ‘What about the tie?’ he
whispered.

‘Better not take if off in the Ritz,’ she said. She leaned over
and kissed him gently on the lips. ‘I’ll come to your place around
eight, and you can give it back to me then.’ She gave him that
smile one last time before walking out of the morning room.

A few moments later, Arabella was standing outside De
Beers. The door was opened immediately: the Van Cleef &
Arpels necklace, the Balenciaga bag and the Chanel watch all
suggested that this lady was not in the habit of being kept
waiting.

‘I want to look at some engagement rings,’ she said shyly
before stepping inside.

‘Of course, madam,’ said the doorman, and led her down
the corridor.

During the next hour, Arabella carried out almost the same
routine as Jeremy, and after much prevarication she told Mr
Crombie, ‘It’s hopeless, quite hopeless. I’ll have to bring Archie
in. After all, he’s the one who’s going to foot the bill.’

‘Of course, madam.’

‘I’m joining him for lunch at Le Caprice,’ she added, ‘so
we’ll pop back this afternoon.’

‘We’ll look forward to seeing you both then,’ said the sales
associate as he closed the jewel box.

‘Thank you, Mr Crombie,’ said Arabella as she rose to leave.

Arabella was escorted to the front door by the sales associate
without any suggestion that she should take her clothes off.
Once she was back on Piccadilly, she hailed a taxi and gave the
driver an address in Lowndes Square. She checked her watch,
confident that she would be back at the flat long before her
father, who would never find out that his watch and cufflinks
had been borrowed for a few hours, and who certainly wouldn’t
miss one of his old school ties.

As she sat in the back of the taxi, Arabella admired the
flawless yellow diamond. Jeremy had carried out her instructions
to the letter. She would of course have to explain to her
friends why she’d broken off the engagement. Frankly, he just
wasn’t one of our set, never really fitted in. But she had to
admit she would quite miss him. She’d grown rather fond of
Jeremy, and he was very enthusiastic between the sheets. And
to think that all he’d get out of it was a pair of silver collar
stiffeners and an old Etonian tie. Arabella hoped he still had
enough money to cover the bill at the Ritz.

She dismissed Jeremy from her thoughts and turned her
attention to the man she’d chosen to join her at Wimbledon,
whom she had already lined up to assist her in obtaining a
matching pair of earrings.

When Mr Crombie left De Beers that night, he was still trying
to work out how the man had managed it. After all, he’d had
no more than a few seconds while his head was bowed.

‘Goodnight, Doris,’ he said as he passed a cleaner who was
vacuuming in the corridor.

‘Goodnight, sir,’ said Doris, opening the door to the viewing
room so she could continue to vacuum. This was where the
customers selected the finest gems on earth, Mr Crombie had
once told her, so it had to be spotless. She turned off the
machine, removed the black velvet cloth from the table and
began to polish the surface; first the top, then the rim. That’s
when she felt it.

Doris bent down to take a closer look. She stared in
disbelief at the large piece of chewing gum stuck under the
rim of the table. She began to scrape it off, not stopping until
there wasn’t the slightest trace of it left, then dropped it
into the rubbish bag attached to her cleaning cart before
placing the velvet cloth back on the table.

‘Such a disgusting habit,’ she muttered as she closed the
viewing-room door and continued to vacuum the carpet in the
corridor.

ISBN: 9780230531451
ISBN-10: 9780312539542
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 274
Published: 5th May 2010
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Dimensions (cm): 24.1 x 16.2  x 3.2
Weight (kg): 0.501

Jeffrey Archer

It has often been said that Jeffrey Archer's own story would make an international bestseller. He was born in London, brought up in Somerset, the son of a printer, and educated at Wellington School, and Brasenose College, Oxford, where he gained an athletics blue, was President of the University Athletics Club, and went on to run the 100 yards in 9.6 seconds for Great Britain in 1966.

After leaving Oxford he was elected to the Greater London Council, and three years later at the age of 29, he became Member of Parliament for Louth. After five years in the Commons and a promising political career ahead of him, he invested heavily in a Canadian company called Aquablast, on the advice of the Bank of Boston. The company went into liquidation, and three directors were later sent to jail for fraud. Left with debts of £427,727, and on the brink of bankruptcy, he resigned from the House of Commons.

Aged 34, determined to repay his creditors in full, he sat down to write his first novel Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less. Written at the home of his former Oxford Principal, it was taken up by the Literary Agent, Debbie Owen, and sold to 17 countries within a year. It was also made into a successful serial for BBC Radio 4, and was later televised in 1990 by the BBC.

His second novel, Shall We Tell the President?, a fast moving thriller about a plot to assassinate Edward Kennedy while he was President of the United States, later up-dated by the author substituting Florentyna Kane, from The Prodigal Daughter, for Edward Kennedy.

With two bestsellers behind him, Kane and Abel came next. The book told the story of two men, one Polish, an illegitimate son of a gypsy, the other rich and privileged from a wealthy Boston banking family. Abel Rosnovski survives countless setbacks, emmigrates to the US and builds up a thriving hotel chain. William Kane inherits a powerful bank and makes it more successful. Their paths cross only once but the meeting causes them to become bitter enemies, each determined to destroy the other. The novel became a number one best-seller in hardcover and paperback all over the world and has sold over 3.5 million in the UK paperback edition alone.

Jeffrey followed this with A Quiver Full of Arrows, a varied collection of short stories that received major critical acclaim, and three of which were dramatised for the Anglia TV series Tales of the Unexpected.

This was followed by The Prodigal Daughter, the sequel to Kane and Abel. And then came the novel Jeffrey Archer was destined to write, with his detailed knowledge and past experience as a Member of Parliament, First Among Equals. It followed the fortunes of four ambitious new MPs who took their seats at Westminster for the first time in the early 1960s. It became an award winning television series for Granada.

In 1986, Jeffrey Archer published A Matter of Honour: a tale about a letter that was never opened by the keeper, only to be passed on to his son after his death. It is the opening of this letter that changes one family's lives forever.

His next book, A Twist in the Tale, was a second set of short stories that gained more plaudits from the critics including The New York Times : "Jeffrey Archer plays a subtle cat-and-mouse game with the reader, a collection of twelve short stories that end, more often than not, with collective whiskers twitching in surprise'.

His next novel, published in June 1992, was As the Crow Flies, a saga that opens in the east end of London at the turn of the century. It follows the career of Charlie Trumper, whose progress from the teeming streets of Whitechapel to the elegance of Chelsea Terrace is only a few miles ‘as the crow flies’ but is an epic journey through the triumphs and disasters of the last century, as Charlie follows a thread of love, ambition and revenge to fulfil the dream his grandfather inspired.

Honour Among Thieves was published in July 1993 and was a number one best-seller from London to Tokyo. He followed this with a set of 12 short stories, Twelve Red Herrings, published in July 1994. The Fourth Estate, based on the lives of Rupert Murdoch and Robert Maxwell, was published in 1996. In 1997, all of Jeffrey's short stories were released in one volume as Collected Short Stories.

Jeffrey's 10th novel, The Eleventh Commandment, in which the action moves from the White House to a Russian Mafia Boss's luxurious hideaway outside St. Petersburg, was published in May 1998, and spent 24 weeks on The Sunday Times Bestseller's List.

Jeffrey's fourth book of short stories, To Cut a Long Story Short, was published in March 2000. His fifth, Cat O'Nine Tales, was published in the UK in 2006.

His novel, Sons of Fortune, was published in December 2002, and his 12th, False Impression, in March 2006. A Prisoner of Birth, was published in March 2008 and has topped the bestseller lists around the world, going to No.1 in the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and India. It spent four weeks in the top 10 on The New York Times Bestseller list. Jeffrey's next novel, Paths of Glory, is scheduled to be published in the UK by Macmillan on 6 March 2009.

Jeffrey is also a playwright, and after the General Election in 1987, he wrote his first play Beyond Reasonable Doubt, which ran at the Queen's Theatre in London's West End for over 600 performances, and starred Frank Finlay and Wendy Craig. His second play, Exclusive, ran at the Strand Theatre for 100 performances, and starred Paul Scofield, Eileen Atkins and Alec McCowen.

His most recent play, The Accused, published by Methuen in October 2000, starred Edward Petherbridge, Michael Feast and Tony Britton, and is a courtroom drama with a twist; the audience acts as the jury, and decide which of two different endings the play should have - guilty or innocent. Jeffrey took on his first West End role, playing the part of the accused. The play completed a very successful nine-week regional tour, before playing at the Theatre Royal Haymarket for a limited eight-week run.

Jeffrey Archer was Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party from September 1985 until November 1986. In 1991, he was co-ordinator for the Campaign for Kurdish Relief, and he is also an amateur auctioneer, having raised more than £12 million in the last 10 years. Jeffrey Archer was made a Life Peer in the Queen's Birthday Honours List of 1992.

Having run a successful campaign for Mayor of London for two-and-a-half years, from 1997, Jeffrey Archer was selected as the official Conservative Party Candidate for London's Mayor in October 1999 by an overwhelming majority. In November that same year, he withdrew his candidacy, having been charged with perjury and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. He was sentenced to four years imprisonment, and was released in July 2003, having served two years.

Jeffrey Archer has published three volumes of his Prison Diary; Volume I, Hell, a searing account of his first three weeks in the high security prison, HMP Belmarsh; Volume II, Purgatory, set in HMP Wayland, a C category prison; and the third and final volume, Heaven, about his final transfer to an open prison.

Now published in 63 countries and more than 32 languages, Jeffrey Archer is firmly established, with international sales passing 250 million copies.

Jeffrey completed the Flora London Marathon on April 18 th 2004, in 5 hours 26 mins, raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation UK, the British Heart Foundation, the Fund for Addenbrooke's and the Facial Surgery Research Foundation. He was overtaken by a camel, a phone-box and a girl walking. He has no plans to repeat the experience.

Jeffrey has also written an original screenplay about George Mallory, called Paths of Glory, which he hopes will go into production with the Oscar-winning director, Bruce Beresford. He has also completed the screenplay to his novel, False Impression.

Jeffrey has been married for 40 years to Dr Mary Archer, who is chairman of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (incorporating Addenbrooke's and the Rosie Hospitals in Cambridge). They have two sons, William and James. They divide their time between homes in London and Cambridge.

Visit Jeffrey Archer's Booktopia Author Page