Dan Brown the name says it all! One of my most favourite authors because of his masterpiece - the international best selling and controversial novel 'The Da Vinci Code', this famous 42 year old American novelist has taken the world by storm with his writings.
Dan Brown was born in 22nd June, 1964 in Exeter, New Hampshire. Brown was the eldest of three children. His mother Constance 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, an exclusive boarding school, with high Christian influence. Brown was raised in this school and sang in the church choir, attended Sunday school, and spent summers at church camp. Brown graduated from Amherst College 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 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. Later, in 1997, Brown married Blythe Newlon.
Brown tried his luck some more as an author and a singer until 1996, when he quit teaching to become a full-time writer. According to a report of the bbc, Brown gave up his job to write full-time when he read a Sydney Sheldon novel on holiday and felt he could do better! Digital Fortress was published in 1998. 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. The novel gives a very controversial view about the legend of Holy Grail
and the role of Mary Magdalene in the history of Christianity. According to the premise of the novel, the Vatican knows it is perpetuating a lie, but continues to do so to keep itself in power. Not only did this make the novel an international best seller it has sparked a lot of interest about early Christain history and cryptography. 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 ironically, also the second highest grossing film of the year, pulling in $750 million USD!
* In a statement at trial in March 2006, Brown wrote that while he was growing up, on birthdays and Christmas, he and his siblings were led on elaborate treasure hunts to find their gifts, following cryptic clues and codes left by their father. This is the same event that he used to describe the fictional childhood of a character in his books.
* Although many claim Brown's books such as The Da Vinci Code are perceived as anti-Christian, Brown calls himself a Christian who says the controversy is good to inspire "discussion and debate" that will ultimately lead to a more solidly defended faith.
* In the film version of The Da Vinci Code, Brown and his wife can be seen in the background of one of the early booksigning scenes.
Compiled by Mahdin Mahboob
(R) thedailystar.net 2007