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Dan Brown ’86

You know Dan Brown as the guy who wrote bestselling thriller The Da Vinci Code.  Because you are an Amherst student, you probably scoff at the book’s simple syntax and its outlandish and at times clichéd plot.  Whatever you thought of the book, the man did something right, seeing as The Da Vinci Code sold over 80 million copies and has been translated into over 40 different languages.
You probably also know that Dan Brown went to Amherst College.  He was a member of the class of 1986.  But did you know that the guy was quite the partier?  He was a member of Psi Upsilon, the fraternity that was so crazy that it had to be disbanded a couple years ago.  Dan Brown also played on the Amherst squash team (woot woot), and sang in the Glee Club.  He was a double major in English and Spanish.
Dan Brown grew up in Exeter, New Hampshire.  He lived on the Phillips Exeter Academy campus, where his father, Richard Brown, was a math teacher.  Thus it is unsurprising that Dan went to high school at Exeter.  He spent his junior year abroad in Seville, Spain.
Brown became interested in puzzles and treasure hunts as a kid.  He did lots of anagrams and crossword puzzles, hence the obsession with codes and puzzles that is evident in his novels.  His father created elaborate treasure hunts for Brown and his siblings, with maps in code that led them around the house and yard.  These hunts no doubt inspired Brown to write about treasure hunts.
Before he became a writer, Brown tried to make it as a singer-songwriter and pianist in Hollywood.  He made children’s music, and a self-titled album Dan Brown.  The fact that I could not find any of his music on iTunes proves that Brown made the right decision in moving back to Exeter to teach English classes.  On the bright side, Brown did meet his wife Blythe (a woman 12 years his senior!) while he was in California.
While visiting Tahiti in 1993, Brown read The Doomsday Conspiracy by Sidney Sheldon.  His first three novels were not very successful, much like his musical career fiasco.  The Da Vinci code was published in March 2003, and finally put Brown on the map.      
Dan Brown donated $2.2 million to Exeter.  Let’s hope he keeps Amherst in his thoughts next time he’s feeling generous!

Evelyn is the Editor-in-Chief of the Amherst branch of Her Campus. She was a features intern at Seventeen Magazine during the summer of 2011 and a features intern at Glamour Magazine during the summer of 2013. She is a French and English major in the class of 2014 at Amherst College. She is also on Amherst's varsity squash team. She is an aspiring travel writer/novelist, and loves running, ice cream, and Jane Austen.
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