Dan Brown‘s spouseBlythe Brown has entered a pantheon whose occupants include Vera Nabokov, Olivia Twain and Tabitha King: the indispensable literary spouse.
Few had heard of Blythe Brown before the trial, but as the author‘s witness statement and court testimony revealed, she was an essential contributor to his million-selling historical thriller. She led the massive research effort, supplied countless notes and suggestions and offered an invaluable “female perspective” for a book immersed in “the sacred feminine, goddess worship and the feminine aspect of spiritually.”
“She (Blythe Brown) dislikes the public attention and I (see) no reason why she should be put through the stress that the glare of publicity would cause,” Dan Brown said in his witness statement, explaining his wife‘s absence.
“She was also very important for the research of
Lolita,‘ because a lot of that book takes place on the road and he didn‘t drive,” says Stacy Schiff, author of “Vera,” a Pulitzer Prize winning biography. “In
Lolita,‘ a car needs to be serviced and Vera would make a list for him of the things that needed to be done so he could write with authority on the subject.”
Olivia Twain was never quite her husband‘s editor or researcher, but Mark Twain did read his manuscripts aloud to her and she did help him proofread his breakthrough book, “The Innocents Abroad.” Stephen King has often cited his wife, Tabitha, noting that she rescued the manuscript of “Carrie” from the trash and contributed essential, firsthand research on a world about which he knew very little: the girls‘ locker room.
“It was 1982 and I had basically quit writing,” Ford says. “And then, for a series of reasons, I decided to write a novel. And when I told Kristina, she said to me,
Well, look, why don‘t you write a novel about somebody who‘s happy,‘ because I had written novels about people who were angst-ridden. More than anything, what she said set me on my course.”
“If you had a husband who gave up his career to help with his wife‘s books, everyone would want to know why he was doing this,” says Meg Wolitzer, author of “The Wife,” a novel about a famous male writer whose spouse actually does the work. “The man would have to give up his own identity in society. What would people think of him? Would he be the poor, pathetic husband?”
Dick Francis was not kidding. Mary Francis died in 2000, and her husband, who for decades had turned out a book a year, hasn‘t published a novel since.