Dan Brown: Biography & Books

Instructor: Jenn Baudreau

Jenn has taught high school English literature and writing; her masters degree is in Teaching & Learning from Colorado State University.

Dan Brown is a best-selling author who writes thrilling novels involving secrets and conspiracies. But where does he get his inspiration? Read on to learn more about these suspenseful novels and the man who writes them.

Early Life

Dan Brown is one of the top-selling authors of all time, but, ironically, he never intended to be an author at all. He was born in 1964 in Exeter, NH, and for a time seemed to be following in the footsteps of both his father, who was a teacher, and his mother, who was a musician. After graduating from Amherst College with a double major in Spanish and English, Brown worked for years as a musician. He had some mild success as a singer and songwriter, putting out a few albums. To help pay the bills, he also worked as a teacher, eventually teaching at Phillips Exeter Academy, the same school he attended himself as a child.

Not only did Brown never intend to be an author, but for most of his life, he also rarely read contemporary fiction. All through college, he focused on reading the classics. It wasn't until 1994 when he was on vacation in Tahiti that he happened to find a copy of The Doomsday Conspiracy by Sidney Sheldon on the beach. He picked up the book and found himself mesmerized as he read, excitedly turning the pages to find out what happened next. When he finished the book, he realized that he, too, could write thrilling stories like that. And, so, he made the decision to do exactly that!

Career Change

With the support of his wife, Blythe, Brown turned his attention away from music and began to write. Since he was still teaching as well, he had to get up at 4:00 each morning so that he could get a few hours of writing in before going to work. He kept an antique hourglass on his desk, and every hour would take a brief break to do some push-ups, sit-ups and stretches. He claims this routine 'helps keep the blood - and ideas - flowing.' Brown published his first novel, Digital Fortress, in 1998. He continued writing, and a couple years later, published Angels and Demons and then Deception Point. While all three of those novels had some small-scale success, it wasn't until he wrote his fourth novel, The Da Vinci Code, that everything changed.

The Da Vinci Code was immediately a huge success. It became a New York Times Best Seller and was turned into a movie starring Tom Hanks. In the story, the protagonist is a symbologist named Robert Langdon. A protagonist is the main character in a novel. Interestingly, The Da Vinci Code was actually Brown's second novel starring Robert Langdon, as Langdon was also the protagonist in Brown's second novel, Angels and Demons. In The Da Vinci Code, Langon is thrust into an underworld of religious secrets and conspiracies as he tries to solve the murder of Jacques Sauniere. His own life is endangered as he comes face-to-face with hidden truths about Christianity, art and secret societies. It should be noted that while Brown based his story on research that he did, there are many people who are offended by some of the things that Brown claims about Christianity. For example, the novel claims that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene and that they had a child who survived to carry forth their bloodline.

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