|Born:||June 22, 1964 (1964-06-22)
Exeter, New Hampshire, U.S.
Dan Brown (born June 22, 1964) is an American author of thriller fiction, best known for the 2003 bestselling novel, The Da Vinci Code.
Dan Brown was born and raised in Exeter, New Hampshire, USA, the eldest of three children. His mother Constance (Connie) was a professional musician, playing organ at church. Brown's father Richard G. Brown was a prominent mathematics teacher, writing textbooks and teaching high school mathematics at Phillips Exeter Academy from 1968 until his retirement in 1982.
After graduating from Phillips Exeter in 1982, Brown attended Amherst College, where he was a member of Psi Upsilon fraternity. He played squash and sang in the Amherst Glee Club, and was a writing student of novelist Alan Lelchuk.
Brown graduated from Amherst with a double major in Spanish and English in 1986, and then dabbled with a musical career, creating effects with a synthesizer, and self-producing a children's cassette entitled SynthAnimals which included a collection of tracks such as "Happy Frogs" and "Suzuki Elephants"; it sold a few hundred copies. He then formed his own (vanity) record company called Dalliance, and in 1990 self-published a CD entitled Perspective, targeted to the adult market, which also sold a few hundred copies. In 1991 he moved to Hollywood to pursue a career as singer-songwriter and pianist. To support himself, he taught classes at Beverly Hills Preparatory School.
While in Los Angeles he joined the National Academy of Songwriters, and participated in many of its events. It was there that he met Blythe Newlon, a woman 12 years his senior, who was the Academy's Director of Artist Development. Though not officially part of her job, she took on the seemingly unusual task of helping to promote Brown's projects; she wrote press releases, set up promotional events, and put him in contact with individuals who could be helpful to his career. She and Brown also developed a personal relationship, though this was not known to all of their associates until 1993, when Brown moved back to New Hampshire, and it was learned that Blythe would accompany him. They married in 1997, at Pea Porridge Pond, a location near North Conway, New Hampshire.
Along with helping his singing career, Blythe has also been a major influence on Brown's career as an author, as she assists with much of the promotion involved with his books. She co-wrote both of his early "humor" books, which were written under pseudonyms, and there is speculation that she may have helped with other books as well. In the Acknowledgement for Deception Point, Brown thanked "Blythe Brown for her tireless research and creative input."
In 1993, Brown released the self-titled CD Dan Brown, which included songs such as "976-Love" and "If You Believe in Love".
Brown and Blythe moved to his home town in New Hampshire in 1993. Brown became an English teacher at his alma mater Phillips Exeter, and gave Spanish classes to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders at Lincoln Akerman School, a small school for K–8th grade with about 250 students, in Hampton Falls.
In 1994, Brown released a CD entitled Angels & Demons. Its artwork was the same ambigram by artist John Langdon which he later used for the novel Angels & Demons. The liner notes also again credited his wife for her involvement, thanking her "for being my tireless cowriter, coproducer, second engineer, significant other, and therapist."
This CD included songs such as "Here in These Fields" and the religious ballad "All I Believe."
Also in 1994, while on holiday in Tahiti, he read Sidney Sheldon's novel The Doomsday Conspiracy, and decided that he could do better. He started work on Digital Fortress, and also co-wrote a humor book with his wife, 187 Men to Avoid: A Guide for the Romantically Frustrated Woman, under the pseudonym "Danielle Brown" (one of the 187 items in the book was "Men who write self-help books for women"). The book's author profile reads, "Danielle Brown currently lives in New England: teaching school, writing books, and avoiding men." The copyright, however, is listed as "Dan Brown". It sold a few thousand copies before going out of print.
In 1996, Brown quit teaching to become a full-time writer. Digital Fortress was published in 1998. Blythe did much of the book's promotion, writing press releases, booking Brown on talk shows, and setting up press interviews. A few months later, Brown and his wife released The Bald Book, another humor book. It was officially credited to his wife, though a representative of the publisher said that it was primarily written by Brown.
Brown's first three novels had little success, with fewer than 10,000 copies in each of their first printings; but the fourth novel, The Da Vinci Code, became a runaway bestseller, going to the top of the New York Times Best Seller list during its first week of release in 2003. It is now credited with being one of the most popular books of all time, with 60.5 million copies sold worldwide as of 2006. Its success has helped push sales of Brown's earlier books. In 2004, all four of his novels were on the New York Times list in the same week, and in 2005, he made Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people of the year. Forbes magazine placed Brown at #12 on their 2005 "Celebrity 100" list, and estimated his annual income at US$76.5 million. The Times estimated his income from 'Da Vinci Code' sales as $250 million.
In October 2004, Brown and his siblings donated US$2.2 million to Phillips Exeter Academy in honor of their father, to set up the "Richard G. Brown Technology Endowment," to help "provide computers and high-tech equipment for students in need."
Brown is interested in cryptography, keys, and codes, which are a recurring theme in his stories. Currently his novels have been translated into more than 40 languages.
In 2006, Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code was released as a film by Columbia Pictures, with director Ron Howard; the film starred Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon, Audrey Tautou as Sophie Neveu and Sir Ian McKellen as Sir Leigh Teabing. It was considered one of the most anticipated films of the year, and was used to launch the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, though it received overall poor reviews. It was later listed as one of the worst films of 2006, but also the second highest grossing film of the year, pulling in $750 million USD. Screenwriter Akiva Goldsman has been commissioned to adapt Angels & Demons, although whether Ron Howard will direct the project is as yet unknown.
Brown was listed as one of the executive producers of the film The Da Vinci Code, and also created additional codes for the film. One of his songs, "Piano", which Brown wrote and performed, was listed as part of the film's soundtrack.
On March 28, 2007, Brown successfully defended a copyright infringement case brought by authors Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh. Britain's Court of Appeal rejected the efforts from two authors who claimed that Brown stole their ideas for The Da Vinci Code. Baigent and Leigh, who wrote Holy Blood, Holy Grail in 1982, argued that Brown stole significant elements from their book. Both are based on a theory that Jesus and Mary Magdalene married and had a child and that the bloodline continues to this day. Baigent and Leigh are liable for paying legal expenses of nearly $6 million USD. Brown even alluded to the two authors names in his book. Leigh Teabing, a lead character in both the novel and the film, anagrammatically derives his last name from Baigent's, while using Leigh's name verbatim.
Some interview statements by Brown have been brought into question: