Brown, Dan


Brown, Dan
▪ 2005

      The phenomenal success of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code (2003) showed no signs of slowing in 2004 as the thriller remained a fixture on best-seller lists around the world and even inspired its own genre. With more than 7.5 million copies sold and editions available in some 40 languages, The Da Vinci Code was one of the fastest-selling books of all time. Intense interest in the novel resulted in a spate of Code-related books and sparked sales of Brown's earlier works; in 2004 all four of his novels appeared simultaneously on the New York Times best-seller lists. The Da Vinci Code's immense popularity lay in Brown's intricate weaving of art history, Christianity's origins, and arcane theories into a spellbinding thriller. It was his second novel to feature Robert Langdon, a Harvard professor of symbology, and it followed Langdon's attempts to solve the murder of the Louvre's curator. As the investigation deepens, Langdon encounters mysterious organizations (Opus Dei and the Priory of Sion), discusses the hidden messages in Leonardo da Vinci's art, raises the possibility that Jesus Christ married Mary Magdalene and fathered a child, and discovers the Holy Grail. The Da Vinci Code proved controversial, and many theologians and art scholars dismissed Brown's notions. Readers, however, were riveted by the novel's furious pace and thought-provoking ideas.

      Brown was born on June 22, 1964, in Exeter, N.H. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy, a prep school where his father was a math teacher, and in 1986 graduated from Amherst (Mass.) College. He then moved to California to pursue a career as a songwriter. Although he had little success in the music industry, in 1990 he wrote his first book, 187 Men to Avoid, a dating survival guide for women; it was published in 1995. In 1993 Brown joined the faculty at Exeter as an English and creative-writing teacher. Several years later the U.S. Secret Service visited the school to interview a student who had written an e-mail in which he joked about killing the president. The incident sparked Brown's interest in covert intelligence agencies, which formed the basis of his first novel, Digital Fortress (1998). Well researched and centred on secret organizations and code breaking, the novel became a model for Brown's later works.

      In his next novel, Angels & Demons (2000), Brown introduced Langdon. The fast-paced thriller followed Langdon's attempts to protect the Vatican from the Illuminati, a secret society formed during the Renaissance that opposed the Roman Catholic Church. Although the novel received positive reviews, it failed to catch on with readers. After his third novel, Deception Point (2001), Brown returned to Langdon with The Da Vinci Code. An immediate success—it debuted atop the New York Times best-seller list—it was optioned for a movie in 2003. In 2004 Brown was at work on his third Langdon novel, which focused on the secret history of Washington, D.C.

Amy Tikkanen

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▪ American author
born June 22, 1964, Exeter, N.H., U.S.

      American author who wrote well-researched novels that centred on secret organizations and had intricate plots. He was best known for The Da Vinci Code (2003).

      Brown attended Phillips Exeter Academy, a prep school where his father was a math teacher, and in 1986 he graduated from Amherst (Mass.) College. He then moved to California to pursue a career as a songwriter. Although he had little success in the music industry, in 1990 he wrote his first book, 187 Men to Avoid, a dating survival guide for women; it was published in 1995.

      In 1993 Brown joined the faculty at Exeter as an English and creative-writing teacher. Several years later the U.S. Secret Service visited the school to interview a student who had written an e-mail in which he joked about killing the president. The incident sparked Brown's interest in covert intelligence agencies, which formed the basis of his first novel, Digital Fortress (1998). Centred on clandestine organizations and code breaking, the novel became a model for Brown's later works. In his next novel, Angels & Demons (2000), Brown introduced Robert Langdon, a Harvard professor of symbology. The fast-paced thriller follows Langdon's attempts to protect the Vatican from the Illuminati, a secret society formed during the Renaissance that opposed the Roman Catholic Church. Although the novel received positive reviews, it failed to catch on with readers.

      After his third novel, Deception Point (2001), Brown returned to Langdon with The Da Vinci Code, a thriller that centres on art history, Christianity's origins, and arcane theories. Attempting to solve the murder of the Louvre's curator, Langdon encounters mysterious organizations ( Opus Dei and the Priory of Sion), discusses the hidden messages in Leonardo da Vinci's art, raises the possibility that Jesus (Jesus Christ) married Mary Magdalene (Mary Magdalene, Saint) and fathered a child, and discovers the Holy Grail. The Da Vinci Code proved controversial, and many theologians and art scholars dismissed Brown's notions. The novel, however, proved immensely popular with readers. By 2004, with more than 7.5 million copies sold and editions available in some 40 languages, The Da Vinci Code was one of the fastest selling books of all time. Intense interest in the novel resulted in a spate of Code-related books and sparked sales of Brown's earlier works; in 2004 all four of his novels appeared simultaneously on The New York Times best-seller lists. The film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code, starring Tom Hanks (Hanks, Tom) as Langdon, was released in 2006.

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Universalium. 2010.

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