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Robert Ludlum

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Robert Ludlum
Robert Ludlum portrait photo
Robert Ludlum portrait photo
Born(1927-05-25)May 25, 1927
New York City, U.S.
DiedMarch 12, 2001(2001-03-12) (aged 73)
Naples, Florida, U.S.
Pen nameJonathan Ryder, Michael Shepherd
Alma materWesleyan University, B.A. 1951
GenreThriller, spy fiction, mystery
Notable worksThe Bourne Trilogy
SpouseMary Ryducha,[1] Karen Dunn[2]

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 300 million and 500 million.[3][4] They have been published in 33 languages and 40 countries. Ludlum also published books under the pseudonyms Jonathan Ryder and Michael Shepherd.[5]

Life and career[edit]

Early life and education[edit]

Ludlum was born in New York City, the son of Margaret (née Wadsworth) and George Hartford Ludlum. He was educated at the Rectory School then Cheshire Academy and Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where he earned a B.A. in Drama in 1951.[6]


Prior to becoming an author, he had been a United States Marine,[7] 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.[8] 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."[5]

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.

During the 1970s, Ludlum lived in Leonia, New Jersey, where he spent hours each day writing at his home.[9]


Ludlum died of a heart attack on March 12, 2001, at his home in Naples, Florida, while recovering from severe burns caused by a mysterious fire which occurred on February 10, 2001.[10][11]

In 2005, the company which held all merchandising for Ludlum's works via the Ludlum's estate, Ludlum Entertainment, signed an agreement with Vivendi Universal Games to handle video game rights to the games for a 10-year agreement.[12] The license expired in 2008.[13] On November 20, 2008, the Ludlum estate signed a deal with Universal Pictures to develop feature films based on the works of Robert Ludlum.[14] On February 2, 2009, his estate transferred video game rights to Ludlum’s work to Electronic Arts after Activision took over Vivendi Games' assets.[15]

Writing analysis and criticism[edit]

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 or politically motivated extremists, are actually pawns of governments or private organizations who are using them to facilitate the establishment of authoritarian rule.



Many of Ludlum's novels have been made into films and miniseries, although the storylines 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.[16]

1 announced/in development

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Williams, John (March 14, 2001). "Robert Ludlum". The Guardian. Retrieved February 23, 2014.
  2. ^ "Stranger Than Fiction - Spotlight on an Author". October 3, 2013.
  3. ^ Ludlum, Robert, Prometheus Deception, 2000. Preface by the publisher, Orion Publishing.
  4. ^ "The Ludlum conspiracy" at Legacy.com.
  5. ^ a b Liukkonen, Petri. "Robert Ludlum". Books and Writers (kirjasto.sci.fi). Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on March 31, 2007.
  6. ^ Gina Macdonald, "The Life of Robert Ludlum", Robert Ludlum: A Critical Companion, Greenwood Press, 1997, pp. 1-3.
  7. ^ Adrian, Jack (March 4, 2001). "Obituary: Robert Ludlum". The Independent.
  8. ^ Garvie, Glenn. "Remembering Playhouse on the Mall". www.bergencounty.com. (201) Magazine. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  9. ^ 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."
  10. ^ "The Times obituary: Robert Ludlum". The Times. London. August 15, 2007.
  11. ^ "The Robert Ludlum controversy: nephew raises questions about top thriller writer's death". The Australian. February 21, 2011. Archived from the original on April 8, 2011.
  12. ^ Fritz, Ben (August 10, 2005). "Gamer spies opportunity". Variety. Retrieved January 5, 2022.
  13. ^ "Bourne license escapes from Activision". GameSpot. Retrieved January 5, 2022.
  14. ^ Fleming, Michael (November 21, 2008). "Ludlum 'Bourne' again at Universal". Variety. Retrieved January 5, 2022.
  15. ^ Graser, Marc (February 3, 2009). "Electronic Arts pacts with Ludlum". Variety. Retrieved January 5, 2022.
  16. ^ "TREADSTONE - Trademark Details". JUSTIA Trademarks. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  17. ^ "Marc Forster to Direct Robert Ludlum's The Chancellor Manuscript". slashfilm.com. January 15, 2010. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  18. ^ "John Cena Replaces Dwayne Johnson as Lead in 'The Janson Directive'". Slashfilm.com. Archived from the original on May 1, 2018. Retrieved March 17, 2019.

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