Brown, best-selling author of 'The Da Vinci Code' was born
on June 22, 1964.
grew up in Exeter, New Hampshire and graduated from Phillips
Exeter Academy in 1982. He and his siblings donated $2.2 million
to the Phillips Academy in 2004 to honour their father, who
had taught there for 35 years.
He moved to Los Angeles and pursued a career as a composer
and musician without great success. Dan Brown then studied
art history in Seville.
1993 he returned to New Hampshire and a teaching job at his
old school. In 1995 Dan Brown and his wife, Blythe, an art
historian, wrote '187 Men to Avoid: A Guide for the Romantically
Frustrated Woman'. The following year Dan Brown became a full-time
writer and published his first thriller, Digital Fortress,
in 1998. He went on to write 'Angels and Demons' and 'Deception
Point'. 'The Da Vinci Code' was published in March 2003 and
sold 6,000 copies on the first day. The book is now reported
to have has sold more than 18 million copies worldwide, but
this figure keeps growing!
Da Vinci Code is the fastest-selling adult
novel ever and has reputedly earned Dan Brown around £140
Brown puts his writing career down to reading Sidney Sheldon's
Doomsday Conspiracy in 1994, saying, "I finished the
book and thought, 'Hey, I could do that'." Dan
Brown came 12th in the Forbes list of the most powerful celebrities
Brown - Biography
Dan Brown, best-selling author of 'The Da Vinci Code'
was born on June 22, 1964.
grew up as the eldest of three children in Exeter, New Hampshire
and graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy, a decidedly up-market
school where his father was employed as a math teacher, in 1982.
His mother, Constance, was a professional musician principally involved
in performing sacred music. Although Dan Brown actually attended
local public, (i.e. open-enrollment), schools until the ninth grade
he nonetheless lived with his family on the Exeter campus and participated
in a college related life that was also informed by christian values-
singing in the church choir and attending church camp.
then attended Amherst College, graduating with a degree in English
and Spanish in 1986 and spent several subsequent years attempting
to establish himself as a singer-songwriter and pianist with only
These endeavors did, however, lead him to live in Los Angeles where
he taught Spanish at Beverly Hills Preparatory School to supplement
his income and where he also met Blythe Newlon. This lady, - twelve
years his senior, was then employed as Artistic Director of the
National Academy of Songwriters. As their relationship developed
Blythe used her influence in attempts to further Dan Brown's musical
It happened, however, that despite Dan Brown's accepted musical
talents, (four CDs of his music were produced and his backers spoke
of him as 'the next Barry Manilow'), his somewhat preppy and slightly
reserved manner contributed to an overall inability to gain sufficient
appreciation as a performance artist to justify continued efforts
to establish himself professionally. In 1993 he decided to return
to New Hampshire and secured a teaching job, in English, at Phillips
Exeter Academy, Blythe Newlon accompanied him.
Brown puts his writing career down to reading a copy of Sidney Sheldon's
"Doomsday Conspiracy" which he had found on the beach
whilst on holiday in Tahiti in 1994, saying, "I finished the
book and thought, 'Hey, I could do that'."
1995 Dan Brown and Blythe, (now describing herself as an art historian),
wrote, under the pseudonym Danielle Brown '187 Men to Avoid: A Guide
for the Romantically Frustrated Woman'. The following year Dan Brown
became a full-time writer, Dan Brown and Blythe Newlon were married
in 1997, he published his first thriller, Digital Fortress, in 1998.
He went on to write 'Angels and Demons' and 'Deception Point'. In
the early pages of 'Deception Point' there appeared an Acknowledgement
where Brown thanked "Blythe Brown for her tireless research
and creative input." 'The Da Vinci Code' which seems also to
have benefitted from such "research and input" was published
in March 2003 and sold 6,000 copies on the first day - going to
the top of the New York Times' Best Seller list in the first week
of publication. (The New York Times literary staff had, in fact,
been so taken with their preview copies that they had actually openly
endorsed it as a "wow" just prior to publication).
Brown and his siblings donated $2.2 million to the Phillips Exeter
Academy in 2004 establishing the "Richard G. Brown Technology
Endowment", to help "provide computers and high-tech equipment
for students in need" to honor their father, who had taught
there for 35 years.
(In 2005 Phillips Exeter Academy had the largest endowment of any
secondary school in the United States, with a market value of $706
Richard G. Brown in his day had also been a 'best seller' having
written the celebrated (in relevant circles) mathematics textbook
Advanced Mathematics: Precalculus with Discrete Mathematics and
Data Analysis. His abilities as a teacher of math had even led to
his being awarded the "Presidential Award for Excellence in
Science and Mathematics Teaching" by President George H. W.
sales figures for The Da Vinci Code kept on growing - to the extent
that it became established as the fastest-selling adult novel ever
with some 40 million copies sold that had reputedly earned Dan Brown
around ?140 million by early 2006. A deal has also been struck with
Columbia Pictures for a multi-million pound film adaptation of The
Da Vinci Code, starring Tom Hanks as Langdon and directed by Ron
Da Vinci Code
Brown is the author of numerous
bestselling novels, including the #1 New York Times bestseller,
The Da Vinci Code -- one of the best selling novels
of all time. In early 2004, all four of Dan Brown's novels held
spots on the New York Times bestseller list during the same week.
Brown has made appearances on CNN, The Today Show, National Public
Radio, Voice of America, as well as in the pages of Newsweek, TIME,
Forbes, People, GQ, The New Yorker, and others. His novels have
been translated and published in more than 40 languages around the
is a graduate of Amherst College and Phillips Exeter Academy, where
he spent time as an English teacher before turning his efforts fully
to writing. In 1996, his interest in code-breaking and covert government
agencies led him to write his first novel, Digital Fortress, which
quickly became a #1 national bestselling eBook. Set within the clandestine
National Security Agency, the novel explores the fine line between
civilian privacy and national security. Brown’s follow-up
techno-thriller, Deception Point, centered on similar issues of
morality in politics, national security, and classified technology.
son of a Presidential Award winning math professor and of a professional
sacred musician, Dan grew up surrounded by the paradoxical philosophies
of science and religion. These complementary perspectives served
as inspiration for his acclaimed novel Angels & Demons—a
science vs. religion thriller set within a Swiss physics lab and
Vatican City. Recently, he has begun work on a series of symbology
thrillers featuring his popular protagonist Robert Langdon, a Harvard
professor of iconography and religious art. The upcoming series
will include books set in Paris, London, and Washington D.C.
Dan’s wife Blythe—an art historian and painter—collaborates
on his research and accompanies him on his frequent research trips,
their latest to Paris, where they spent time in the Louvre for his
thriller, The Da Vinci Code.
In its first week on sale, The Da Vinci Code achieved unprecedented
success when it debuted at #1 on The New York Times Bestseller list,
simultaneously topping bestseller lists at The Wall Street Journal,
Publishers Weekly, and San Francisco Chronicle. Later, the book
hit #1 on every major bestseller list in the country. The Da Vinci
Code is now being adapted for film by Columbia Pictures.
Brown’s The Da Vinci Code
Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code is a fast-paced,
well-plotted murder mystery that takes the reader through the Louvre,
a long night of murders and a police chase out of Paris to a wet morning
in London. There the identity of the evil “Teacher” who
masterminded the killings is revealed in the Chapter House of Westminster
Using as his prime piece of evidence Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Last
Supper,” Brown proposes that the figure on Christ’s right
is not the beloved disciple but Mary Magdalene, who married Jesus
and bore him a child. She was the Holy Grail for his blood and Jesus
wanted her to succeed him in leading his followers. The official church
suppressed the truth about Mary’s relationship with Jesus and
did its best to belittle her as a prostitute. So much for the tributes
Church Fathers like Hippolytus, Gregory the Great and Leo the Great
paid to her as “the apostle of the apostles,” “the
representative of the church” and “the new Eve announcing
not death but life” to the male disciples!
Since the 12th century, a secret society called the Priory of Sion,
which practices sex orgies, has safeguarded the “real,”
explosive secret of the Holy Grail: that Jesus was married to Mary
Magadalene and that their bloodline continues today. Threatened with
the loss of their personal prelature at the hands of a new, liberal
pope, the bishop who leads Opus Dei promises help to the secretary
of state, curiously called the “Secretariat Vaticana,”
who is the head of “the Secretariat Council” (a group
that does not exist in the Roman Curia). A numerary of Opus Dei, a
reformed killer, is set loose to recover from the leaders of the Prior
of Sion the cryptex that contains the sensational secret about Jesus
and Mary Magdalene.
There is to be no killing, but the plan goes astray. The mysterious
Teacher provides the numerary with a gun and prompts him to kill four
top officials of the priory and a nun who tries to defend a hiding
place in the Church of Saint-Sulpice.
High on suspense, the novel concentrates on six major characters:
a fanatical but ingenuous bishop of Opus Dei; Robert Langdon, a Harvard
professor; Sophie Neveu, an attractive French cryptologist who turns
out to be descended from Jesus and Mary Magdalene; Silas, a huge albino
killer; Sir Leigh Teabing, an immensely wealthy seeker of the Holy
Grail; and a brilliant French detective whose toughness conceals a
heart of gold. A love affair develops between Robert and Sophie. But
before they enjoy a week together in Florence, Robert returns to Paris
to locate the resting place of Mary Magdalene, now disclosed as being
under the Louvre Pyramid.
In The New York Times (8/3), Bruce Boucher exposed the eccentric nonsense
about Leonardo that masquerades as new expertise. But there is more
to be said about the effort to discredit mainstream Christianity and
exalt the sacred feminine, and even goddess worship that was supposedly
driven underground by orthodox church leaders.
a few earlier writers have tried their hand at “proving”
a liaison between Jesus and Mary Magdalene—notoriously Michael
Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln in Holy Blood, Holy Grail
(1982). They alleged that several royal families of Europe (but not
the Windsors) are descended from Jesus and Mary. Brown is more cautious
and names only the ancient Merovingians as belonging to Jesus’
bloodline. His case rests on cracking the code of Leonardo’s
painting. But his interpretation, as Boucher shows, is “extremely
eccentric” and, frankly, misinformed.
The Da Vinci Code teems with historical misinformation. The claim
that the Emperor Constantine shifted the Christian day of worship
to Sunday (p. 232) is simply false. Evidence from St. Paul and the
Acts of the Apostles shows that right from the start of the Christian
movement Christians replaced Saturday with Sunday as their day of
worship. Sunday was the day when Jesus rose from the dead. What Constantine
did on March 3, 321, was to decree Sunday to be a day of rest from
work. He did not make Sunday the day of worship for Christians; it
had been that from the first century.
Brown tells us that under pressure from Constantine, Christ was declared
to be divine at the Council of Nicaea in 325. “Until that moment
in his history Jesus was viewed by his followers as a mortal prophet...a
great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless.” Would Brown
please read St John’s Gospel, which has St. Thomas calling Jesus
“My Lord and my God” and expresses Christ’s divinity
in many other passages. Decades before John’s Gospel was finished,
St. Paul’s letters repeatedly affirm faith in Christ as divine.
The Council of Nicaea did not invent faith in Christ’s divinity
but added another (semi-philosophical) way of confessing it—declaring
his “being of one substance with the Father.”
When pleading his case for the eternal feminine and goddess worship,
Brown ignores recent scholarship and belittles the Jewish roots of
Christianity. He assures us that “virtually all the elements
of Catholic ritual—the miter, the altar, the doxology and communion,
the act of ‘God-eating’—were taken directly from
earlier pagan mystery religions.” Doesn’t Brown know about
the use of altars in Jewish worship, in which much of Christian ritual
has its roots? The wearing of the miter by patriarchs and then by
other bishops in Eastern Christianity originated from the emperor’s
crown. In the West the use of miters can be traced back to the 11th
century, when the pagan mystery religions had long disappeared. The
Christian doxology (“Glory be to the Father and to the Son and
to the Holy Spirit”) is based on some of the Jewish psalms (e.g.,
Psalms 8, 66, 150). Holy Communion has its origins in the Jewish Passover,
celebrated by Jesus and his disciples on the night before he died.
Apropos of Judaism, Brown introduces some stunning errors about ritualistic
sex and God. Old Testament scholars agree that prostitution was sometimes
used to obtain money for the temple. But there is no convincing evidence
for sacred or ritual prostitution, and none at all for Israelite men
coming to the temple to experience the divine and achieve spiritual
wholeness by having sex with priestesses (p. 309). On the same page,
Brown explains that the Holy of Holies “housed not only God
but also His powerful female equal, Shekinah.” A word not found
as such in the Bible but in later rabbinic writings, Shekinah refers
to the nearness of God to his people and not to some female consort.
It is also breathtaking nonsense to assert as a “fact”
that the sacred tetragrammaton, YHWH, was “derived from Jehovah,
an androgynous physical union between the masculine Jah and the pre-Hebraic
name for Eve, Havah.” YHWH is written in Hebrew without any
vowel signs. Jews did not pronounce the sacred name, but “Yahweh”
was apparently the correct vocalization of the four consonants. In
the 16th century some Christian writers introduced Jehovah, under
the mistaken notion that the vowels they used were the correct ones.
Jehovah is an artificial name created less than 500 years ago, and
certainly not an ancient, androgynous name from which YHWH derived.
One could go on and on, pointing out the historical errors in The
Da Vinci Code. One last example. Killing so-called witches was a horrible
crime in the story of Christianity. But the idea that the Catholic
Church burned at the stake “five million women” (p. 125)
is bizarre. Savagery of that extent would have depopulated Europe.
Experts give instead the figure of around 50,000 victims over the
three centuries when witch hunts were carried out by Catholics and
Protestants. But it suits the tenor of Brown’s book to multiply
the figure by 100.
The historical misinformation is put in the mouth of the villainous
Sir Leigh Teabing, a former British Royal Historian (is there such
a post?), and in the mouth of the hero, Robert Langdon, a “professor
of symbology” (a new field to me). On their performance, I would
not have given either of them their jobs, let alone voted for Langdon’s
What exactly is the point of a book review?
shouldn’t be full of smart Alex cheap shots; it certainly
shouldn’t be a three hundred word, thirty-minute-effort, get-even,
put-down of a novel some author has spend at least a year on.
It should be a description of the qualities of the book in question
so that potential readers can decide whether or not they want to
part with their hard-earned cash.
Having said all of that I really couldn’t encourage you enough
to go out and purchase The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.
It’s a thrill a minute, cleverly plotted, fast paced, genuinely
un-put- down-able (I read it in two sittings) classic. It’s
got religion, art world background, real life clues, secret societies,
clandestine sects, code breaking, a hidden religious relic, a Mickey
Mouse watch, and a beautiful heroine. It’s an exciting cross
between, King Solomon’s Mines, Harry Potter and Raiders of
The Lost Arc. It’s hysterical, historical and more informative
than the recent BBC television series on Leonardo Da Vinci. It’ll
send your mind off in a thousand different tangents - all worthy
and all thoroughly enjoyable.
The hero, Professor Richard Langdon - a Boy’s Own type hero
- is James Bond without the gadgets. Langdon is maybe a tad more
Hugh Grant than Harrison Ford. Brown obviously has big long-term
plans for the Harvard Professor; he has only given away little snippets
of background information and history on Langdon in his two outings
- The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons - leaving fuller fleshing
out until (hopefully) further volumes.
It’s a great story, a BIG story, a believable story, flawlessly
told by an author at a creative peak and the point of this review
is to try and encourage you to check this particular gem out.
More than that we cannot do.
Reviewed by Paul Charles
Brown's The Da Vinci Code is a novel about a secret society that harbors
dangerous evidence that could shatter the Catholic Church if revealed.
It's probably the best conspiracy story I've read. I never did make
it through Focault's Pendulum or any of Pynchon's books. They bored
the pants off me. And The Illuminatus Trilogy seemed a lot more profound
(and coherent) when I was in college than it did during a recent re-reading.
Brown got the right mix of suspense, history, and conspiracy with
The Da Vinci Code.
After reading The Da Vinci Code, I bought all of
Brown's other novels: Angels & Demons, Deception Point, and
Digital Fortress. I enjoyed them all, but none are as good as The
Da Vinci Code. Angels & Demons come very close. The story's
set-up is similar to The Da Vinci Code's. In fact, they share the
same protagonist, an American professor of religious studies. Both
stories involve the professor getting involved in a whirlwind adventure
in a large European city (Paris in Da Vinci, and Rome in Angles
& Demons) and both feature daughters of important secret society
leaders who are murdered by a gruesome misfit henchmen of a competing
secret society. The similarities didn't bother me though, because
Angels & Demons is such a fun ride.
Brown's other two novels, Deception Point, and Digital
Fortress, were written before Da Vinci and Angels & Demons,
and while they're both perfectly readable adventures, they lack
the historical and conspiracy angles that fuel his later work. Digital
Fortress, the weakest of all, takes place in the bowels of the National
Security Agency. The female hero of the story must crack a supposedly
uncrackable code, and she doesn't know which of her coworkers she
can trust. Almost every scene takes place in the basement of the
NSA, and I felt claustrophobic while reading it. Brown wisely began
moving his chartacters all around the world in Deception Point,
which a fun science and political thriller about the discovery of
an unusual meteorite in the arctic circle.