Friday, November 30, 2007
Richard Leigh, a writer of the world's relevant yet unconventional historical stories has died, his agent said Friday. He was 64. He is also renowned for his attempt unsuccessfully to sue for plagiarism over themes in Dan Brown's blockbuster novel "The Da Vinci Code."
Leigh, born in New Jersey in 1943 to a British father and Austrian mother lived in Britain for three decades, died in London on Nov. 21 of causes related to a heart condition. Leigh was co-author of "The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail," a work of exploratory nonfiction that claimed Jesus Christ fathered a child with Mary Magdalene and that the bloodline continues to this day.
Firstly, a best-seller on its release in 1982, the book has gone onto gain new readers after Brown's thriller, which explored related themes. The book has sold more than 40 million copies, and was released in 2003. He along with co-author Michael Baigent sued Brown's publisher Random House, claiming "The Da Vinci Code" "appropriated the architecture" of their book. A third "Holy Blood" author, Henry Lincoln, was not named in the lawsuit.
However, in April 2006, High Court judge Peter Smith threw out the claim, on the grounds that the ideas in dispute were too general to be protected by copyright.
Ironically, the prominent court case sent "Holy Blood" back up the best-seller lists, and Baigent and Leigh were presented with a bill estimated at nearly 3 million pounds (US$6.2 million) after the judge ordered them to pay 85 percent of Random House's legal costs.