Dan Brown


"It's a book about big ideas, you can love them or hate them. But we're all talking about them, and that's really the point." -- Dan Brown on The Da Vinci Code [1] Dan Brown, the author of The Da Vinci Code, was born on June 22, 1964 and raised in Exeter, New Hampshire. He is the oldest of three children.

His mother Constance (Connie) was a professional musician, playing organ at church. Brown's father Richard G. Brown taught high school mathematics at Phillips Exeter Academy from 1962 until his retirement in 1997.

Phillips Exeter Academy is an exclusive boarding school, which required new teachers to live on campus for several years, so Brown and his siblings were literally raised at the school. There was no television, and the social environment was mostly Christian. Brown sang in the church choir, attended Sunday school, and spent summers at church camp. [2] His own schooling was at public schools in Exeter until the 9th grade, at which time he enrolled in Phillips Exeter, as did his younger siblings Valerie and Gregory.

Musician and Songwriter

After graduating from Phillips Exeter in 1982, Brown attended Amherst College, where he was a member of Psi Upsilon fraternity. He graduated from Amherst 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", and sold a few hundred copies. He then formed his own 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 Brown 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 be accompanying him. They married in 1997, at Pea Porridge Pond, a location near North Conway, New Hampshire. [3]

Along with helping his singing career, the Palmdale-born 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."

New England Teacher and Budding Author

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 7th graders at Lincoln Akerman School, a small school for K–8th grade with about 250 students, in Hampton Falls [4].

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."

Also in 1994, while on holiday in Tahiti he read Sidney Sheldon's novel The Doomsday Conspiracy in one weekend, and decided "I could do this." [5] He started work on Digital Fortress.

Dan Brown 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.

Bestselling Author

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 mediocre success, with fewer than 10,000 copies in each of their first printings; but the fourth novel, The Da Vinci Code, became a runaway hit, going to the top of the New York Times Bestseller 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 40 million copies sold worldwide. [6] Currently his novels have been translated into more than 40 languages. [7]

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 [8], 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 $76.5 million.

In October 2004, Brown and his siblings donated $2.2 million USD 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." As a side note, Exeter currently has the second largest endowment of any secondary school in the United States, with a market value of $706 million USD as of 2005. This makes a per-student endowment of $660,000 USD, higher than the per-student endowments at most universities.

Brown is interested in cryptography, keys, and codes, which are a recurring theme in his stories.

Future Projects

Brown is currently working on a new novel, called The Solomon Key, which will reportedly take place in Washington D.C., and center around the secret society of the Freemasons. The exact release date has not been announced, but the most common media speculation says 2007. [9]

Brown's promotional website states that puzzles hidden in the bookjacket of The Da Vinci Code (including two referring to the Kryptos sculpture at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia) give hints about the subject of the next novel. This repeats a theme from some of Brown's earlier work. For example, a puzzle at the end of the book Deception Point decrypts to the message, "The Da Vinci Code will surface."

Brown says that he currently has outlines for at least 12 future books, one of which involves a famous composer's "all factual" associations with a secret society. Speculation is that this may mean Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who was also a Freemason.


  • Brown's bestseller The Da Vinci Code was his first hit and became the first to be adapted into a film. However, it is actually the second book in which Robert Langdon appears. The first is Angels and Demons.
  • The fictional Langdon's alma mater is Phillips Exeter Academy, the same school that Brown attended. Exeter has produced many notable individuals - Senators, several United States Cabinet members, a President, and many well-known authors. Many books and films, especially if by Exeter alumni, feature a reference to the school.
  • Characters in Brown's books are often named after real people in his life. Robert Langdon is named after John Langdon, the artist who created the ambigrams used for the Angels & Demons CD and novel. Camerlengo Carlo Ventresca is named after friend Carla Ventresca. Robert Langdon's editor Jonas Faukman, is named after Brown's real life editor Jason Kaufman. Brown also said that characters were based on a New Hampshire librarian, and a French teacher at Exeter.
  • 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.
  • Brown plays tennis, and does his writing in his loft, often getting up at 4 a.m. to work. He keeps an antique hourglass on his desk, to remind himself to take breaks.
  • Brown has told fans that he uses inversion therapy to help with writer's block. He uses gravity boots and says, “hanging upside down seems to help me solve plot challenges by shifting my entire perspective.” [10]
  • There is a brief appearance of Brown and his wife in the 2005 film Be Cool, in the front row of the audience at the Aerosmith concert.
  • Although many claim Brown's books such as "Da Vinci Code" are anti-Christian, Brown himself is a self-proclaimed Christian who says the controversy is good to inspire "discussion and debate" that will ultimately lead to a more solidly defended faith.

More Information

  • Official Dan Brown website - includes FAQ on The Da Vinci Code
  • "Author talk", March 20, 2003, at bookreporter.com
  • BBC News, August 10, 2004. "Dan Brown: Decoding the Da Vinci Code author"
  • "Veni vidi da Vinci", December 12, 2004, author profile at The Guardian
  • "Da Vinci Code Dad Named in Multimillion-Dollar Gift", November 1, 2004, The Exeter Initiatives
  • Rogak, Lisa. The Man Behind the Da Vinci Code - an Unauthorized Biography of Dan Brown, 2005, Andrews McMeel Publishing.
  • "Harry Potter still magic for book sales", January 9, 2006, CBC Arts - lists comparative sales figures between a few bestselling books in North America, including two of Brown's books.
  • The Observer, March 12, 2006, "How Dan Brown's wife unlocked the code to bestseller success"
  • BBC News, April 24, 2006. "Dan Brown plays down Code controversy."
  • The Standard, March 15, 2006, "Brown duels in court"
  • The Age (Australia), March 16, 2006, "Da Vinci author finds his marriage on trial"
  • Dan Brown witness statement in Da Vinci Code case, March 14, 2006


This article was adapted from "Dan Brown" on Wikipedia, accessed May 2006. As such, it is available under the Gnu Free Documentation License.

  • Comments
Loading comments...