She has not appeared in court, and little is known about her.
Yet the mysterious figure of Blythe Brown has loomed over a plagiarism trial in which her famous husband, author Dan Bown, stands accused of copying from another book to create his bestselling thriller “The Da Vinci Code.”
In Dan Brown’s main witness statement, Blythe’s name is mentioned in over one quarter of its 219 paragraphs.
She launched his literary career by getting “187 Men to Avoid” published in 1995, earning him $12,500.
She had little to do with his first novel, “Digital Fortress,” published three years later, but then became his research assistant on “Angels & Demons,” which like “The Da Vinci Code,” also involves religion and art — both among her passions.
“This was wonderful,” Dan Brown recalls in the statement. “I now had a sounding board and a travel partner on research trips ... She also served as a first-pass set of eyes for new sections I was writing.”
Even greater was her role in “The Da Vinci Code,” Brown’s fourth novel, which went on to become one of the most successful books of all time, selling 40 million copies.
By then, according to Dan Brown, his wife was “reading entire books, highlighting exciting ideas.” She became passionate about the Church’s suppression of women, in particular the idea that it had unfairly maligned the historical figure Mary Magdalene.
Blythe encouraged him to incorporate the idea of the sacred feminine into “The Da Vinci Code,” a concept which he acknowledges became its central theme.
She was also instrumental in introducing the key theory that Jesus’ bloodline may have survived the Crucifixion.
“I thought it was a step too far,” writes Brown. “However, after much discussion and brainstorming with Blythe, I eventually became convinced that I could introduce the idea successfully.”
Brown describes how Blythe chided him for including too many thriller elements at the expense of her research. “In the end we found a comfortable balance of pace and history, and we had a wonderful time throwing ideas back and forth.”
Where is Blythe?In a separate statement, Brown addresses the question on the everyone’s lips: where is Blythe?
“She dislikes the public attention, and I saw no reason why she should be put through the stress that the glare of the publicity would cause,” writes the 41-year-old, himself notoriously media-shy.
In fact, her absence could yet have a bearing on the outcome of the High Court case, in which two authors of the 1982 nonfiction book “The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail” are suing Brown’s British publisher Random House for copyright infringement.
Jonathan Rayner James, the lawyer representing historians Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, has questioned how Brown could be sure of the provenance of research that ended up in his novel, when so much of it was compiled by someone else.
Brown says neither he nor his wife had read the “Holy Blood” book when he came to write the synopsis of his novel.
When asked by the judge whether he believed that argument, Rayner James replied: “Mr. Brown denies it. We say his wife had it by that time.”
During his three days in the witness box, Brown stressed that he did not use all of Blythe’s research or incorporate all of her ideas, and explained how they would often communicate via e-mail even when in the same building.
“It may sound very cold, but that’s often how we communicate at home,” he said.
Dan Brown met Blythe Newlon in the early 1990s in Los Angeles, where he had traveled to become a songwriter.
They married in 1997 and live together on the East Coast of the United States. While Internet sites are vague about her age, Blythe is around 12 years older than her husband.