May 25, 1927|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||March 12, 2001
Naples, Florida, U.S.
|Pen name||Jonathan Ryder, Michael Shepherd|
|Alma mater||Wesleyan University|
|Genre||Thriller, spy fiction, mystery|
|Notable works||The Bourne Trilogy|
|Spouse||Mary Ryducha, Karen Dunn|
|Children||3 (two sons and a daughter)|
Robert Ludlum (May 25, 1927 – March 12, 2001) was an American author of 27 thriller novels, best known as the creator of Jason Bourne from the original The Bourne Trilogy series. The number of copies of his books in print is estimated between 290 million and 500 million. They have been published in 33 languages and 40 countries. Ludlum also published books under the pseudonyms Jonathan Ryder and Michael Shepherd.
Life and career
Early life and education
Ludlum was born in New York City, the son of Margaret (née Wadsworth) and George Hartford Ludlum. His maternal grandparents were English. He was educated at The Rectory School then Cheshire Academy and Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where he earned a B.A. in Drama. While at Wesleyan, Ludlum joined the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. After becoming an author later in life, Ludlum would set his mystery novel Matlock Paper at the fictitious Carlyle University in Connecticut, a thinly disguised Wesleyan.
Prior to becoming an author, he had been a United States Marine, a theatrical actor and producer. In the 1950s, he produced shows at the Grant Lee theater in Fort Lee, New Jersey. From 1960 to 1970, he managed and produced shows at the Playhouse on the Mall at Bergen Mall in Paramus, New Jersey. His theatrical experience may have contributed to his understanding of the energy, escapism and action that the public wanted in a novel. He once remarked: "I equate suspense and good theater in a very similar way. I think it's all suspense and what-happens-next. From that point of view, yes, I guess, I am theatrical."
Many of Ludlum's novels have been made into films and mini-series, including The Osterman Weekend, The Holcroft Covenant, The Apocalypse Watch, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. Covert One: The Hades Factor, a book co-written with Gayle Lynds, was originally conceived as a mini-series; the book evolved from a short treatment Ludlum wrote for NBC. The Bourne movies, starring Matt Damon in the title role, have been commercially and critically successful (The Bourne Ultimatum won three Academy Awards in 2008), although the story lines depart significantly from the source material.
Mystery around death
Referred to as The Ludlum Conspiracy, Kenneth Kearns, Robert Ludlum's nephew (Ludlum's first wife's sister's son), pointed to the mystery surrounding Ludlum's death, with the possible implication of his second wife's involvement.
Writing analysis and criticism
Ludlum's novels typically feature one heroic man, or a small group of crusading individuals, in a struggle against powerful adversaries whose intentions and motivations are evil and who are capable of using political and economic mechanisms in frightening ways. The world in his writings is one where global corporations, shadowy military forces and government organizations all conspired to preserve (if it was evil) or undermine (if it was law-abiding) the status quo.
Ludlum's novels were often inspired by conspiracy theories, both historical and contemporary. He wrote that The Matarese Circle was inspired by rumors about the Trilateral Commission, and it was published only a few years after the commission was founded. His depictions of terrorism in books such as The Holcroft Covenant and The Matarese Circle reflected the theory that terrorists, rather than being merely isolated bands of ideologically motivated extremists, are actually pawns of governments or private organizations who are using them to facilitate the establishment of authoritarian rule.
Some of Ludlum's novels have been made into films and mini-series, although the story lines might depart significantly from the source material. In general, a miniseries is more faithful to the original novel on which it is based. Adaptations of Ludlum's works are published under the trademark Treadstone, which is held by The Executor Of The Robert Ludlum Estate.
- 1977 – The Rhinemann Exchange — miniseries — Stephen Collins as David Spaulding, Lauren Hutton as Leslie Jenner Hawkewood
- 1983 – The Osterman Weekend — film — Rutger Hauer as John Tanner, Sam Peckinpah directed
- 1985 – The Holcroft Covenant — film — Michael Caine as Noel Holcroft
- 1988 – The Bourne Identity — miniseries — Richard Chamberlain as Jason Bourne, Jaclyn Smith as Marie St. Jacques
- 1997 – The Apocalypse Watch — miniseries — Patrick Bergin as Drew Latham
- 2002 – The Bourne Identity — film — Matt Damon as Jason Bourne and Franka Potente as Marie Helena Kreutz
- 2004 – The Bourne Supremacy — film — Matt Damon as Jason Bourne
- 2006 – Covert One: The Hades Factor — miniseries — Stephen Dorff as Jon Smith
- 2007 – The Bourne Ultimatum — film — Matt Damon as Jason Bourne
- 2012 - The Bourne Legacy — film — starring Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton
- 2016 – Jason Bourne — film — Matt Damon as Jason Bourne
- TBA – The Chancellor Manuscript — film — Leonardo DiCaprio as Peter Chancellor1
- TBA— The Janson Directive — film — Dwayne Johnson as Paul Janson1
1 announced/in development
- Williams, John (March 14, 2001). "Robert Ludlum". The Guardian. Retrieved February 23, 2014.
- "Stranger Than Fiction - Spotlight on an Author". October 3, 2013.
- Ludlum, Robert, Prometheus Deception, 2000. Preface by the publisher, Orion Publishing.
- "The Ludlum conspiracy" at Legacy.com.
- Kearns, Kenneth (March 6, 2011). "The Ludlum Conspiracy". Daily Mail. London.
- Liukkonen, Petri. "Robert Ludlum". Books and Writers (kirjasto.sci.fi). Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on 10 February 2015.
- Gina Macdonald, "The Life of Robert Ludlum", Robert Ludlum: A Critical Companion, Greenwood Press, 1997, p. 1.
- "Ludlum" at Genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com.
- "United Kingdom" at Dallasnews.com.
- "Robert Ludlum" at Soccer.msg.com.
- Adrian, Jack (March 4, 2001). "Obituary: Robert Ludlum". The Independent.
- Garvie, Glenn. "Remembering Playhouse on the Mall". www.bergencounty.com. (201) Magazine. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
- Klemsrud, Judy (July 10, 1977). "Behind the Best Sellers: Robert Ludlum". The New York Times. Retrieved March 30, 2011. "He writes for six or seven hours in an office in his house in Leonia."
- "The Times obituary Robert Ludlum". The Times. London. August 15, 2007.
- "The Robert Ludlum controversy: nephew raises questions about top thriller writer's death". The Australian. February 21, 2011.
- Kearns, Kenneth (March 6, 2011). "The Ludlum Conspiracy: Was the master storyteller and creator of the blockbuster Bourne movies murdered by his gold-digging wife?". Daily Mail. London.
- "TREADSTONE - Trademark Details". JUSTIA Trademarks. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
- "Marc Forster to Direct Robert Ludlum’s The Chancellor Manuscript". slashfilm.com. January 15, 2010. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
- "Dwayne Johnson to Lead ‘The Janson Directive’, Based on Book By ‘Bourne’ Author". Slashfilm.com. Retrieved 15 August 2016.