On this day in 1964, Dan Brown, author of the international blockbuster “The Da Vinci Code” as well as other best-selling thrillers, is born in New Hampshire. Brown’s extensively researched novels are known for involving symbols, conspiracies and secret societies.
Brown was raised in New Hampshire, where his father taught math at Phillips Exeter Academy and his mother was a musician. He graduated from Amherst College in 1986 then tried to make it as a singer-songwriter in Los Angeles. When his music career failed to take off, Brown moved back to his home state in 1993 and became an English teacher at Phillips Exeter. He eventually started writing fiction and his first novel, “Digital Fortress,” a techno-thriller about a National Security Agency cryptographer, was published in 1998. It was followed by “Angels & Demons” (2000), in which Brown introduced the fictional Harvard University symbologist and future “Da Vinci Code” protagonist Robert Langdon, and “Deception Point” (2001), which centers on NASA and a meteor found in the Arctic Circle.
The three books initially met with modest commercial success and Brown remained a little-known author until the 2003 debut of his fourth novel, “The Da Vinci Code,” which became one of the world’s top-selling novels. The book, which has been translated into more than 40 languages, follows Langdon and police cryptologist Sophie Neveu as they investigate the murder of a Louvre museum curator. The plot also involves hidden messages in Leonardo Da Vinci’s art, the fabled Holy Grail, and the theory that Jesus had a child with Mary Magdalene and the Roman Catholic Church later covered it up.
A publishing phenomenon, “The Da Vinci Code” inspired fans to flock to its various real-life locations in Europe. The novel also stirred up controversy, and some Catholic Church officials labeled it anti-Christian and protested its negative portrayal of the conservative Catholic organization Opus Dei. A big-screen adaptation of “The Da Vinci Code,” directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon, was released in 2006. Hanks reprised his role for the movie version of “Angels & Demons,” which opened in 2009.
Highly anticipated by fans, Brown’s fifth novel, “The Lost Symbol,” which is set in Washington, D.C., and again features Robert Langdon, debuted in 2009. Its first-day sales topped more than 1 million copies.