Robert Ludlum Author Biography Essay

Robert Ludlum

Robert Ludlum portrait photo

BornRobert Ludlum
(1927-05-25)May 25, 1927
New York City, New York, 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]
Children3 (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.[3][4][5] They have been published in 33 languages and 40 countries. Ludlum also published books under the pseudonyms Jonathan Ryder and Michael Shepherd.[6]

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.[7] His maternal grandparents were English.[8] 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. 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.[9][10]


Prior to becoming an author, he had been a United States Marine,[11] 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.[12] 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."[6]

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.[13]


Ludlum died 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.[14][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 motivated extremists, are actually pawns of governments or private organizations who are using them to facilitate the establishment of authoritarian rule.


Main article: Robert Ludlum bibliography


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 trademarkTreadstone, 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
  5. ^Kearns, Kenneth (March 6, 2011). "The Ludlum Conspiracy". Daily Mail. London. 
  6. ^ abLiukkonen, Petri. "Robert Ludlum". Books and Writers ( Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on March 31, 2007. 
  7. ^Gina Macdonald, "The Life of Robert Ludlum", Robert Ludlum: A Critical Companion, Greenwood Press, 1997, p. 1.
  8. ^"Ludlum" at
  9. ^"United Kingdom" at
  10. ^"Robert Ludlum"[permanent dead link] at
  11. ^Adrian, Jack (March 4, 2001). "Obituary: Robert Ludlum". The Independent. 
  12. ^Garvie, Glenn. "Remembering Playhouse on the Mall". (201) Magazine. Retrieved 25 March 2015. 
  13. ^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."
  14. ^"The Times obituary Robert Ludlum". The Times. London. August 15, 2007. 
  15. ^"The Robert Ludlum controversy: nephew raises questions about top thriller writer's death". The Australian. February 21, 2011. 
  16. ^"TREADSTONE - Trademark Details". JUSTIA Trademarks. Retrieved 16 January 2017. 
  17. ^"Marc Forster to Direct Robert Ludlum's The Chancellor Manuscript". January 15, 2010. Retrieved July 17, 2013. 
  18. ^"Dwayne Johnson to Lead 'The Janson Directive', Based on Book By 'Bourne' Author". Retrieved 15 August 2016. 

External links[edit]

Robert Ludlum is an American thriller novelist who was born on May 25th 1927 in New York and spent his childhood in New Jersey. His father was a business man and mother the daughter of a rich businessman due to which he had a financially secure childhood. He went to ‘The Rectory School’ and the ‘Cheshire Academy’ and then for graduate studies to the Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Before starting his career in writing, he acted in various theatrical shows and also produced many of them. He acted in more than 200 dramas in TV and Stage both. Ludlum was also in the US Marine Corps before his career as an author. He was married to the actress Mary Ryducha and had three children with her.

His first novel was ‘The Scarlatti Inheritance’ published in 1971. The novel instantly reached the bestselling charts. This was a book about the Nazis and international investors. His second book was published two years later called the ‘The Osterman Weekend’ which also became a film later on. By the middle of the 70’s Ludlum had started writing as a full time career. The Ludlum family moved to Long Island where they had their second home. Ludlum travelled a lot to find backgrounds for his stories.

His most renowned novel series was ‘The Bourne Identity’ which started in 1980’s. It was a story about an American man who is a counter assassin with a memory loss and he confronts his opponents in different locations.
His books were mainly about characters that were the way they were due to economic reasons. They had to fight against governments or negative forces that were power hungry. ‘The Aquitaine Progression’ (1984) and ‘In the Matarese Circle’ (1979) were books with a similar story line. Ludlum also published some books under pseudonyms. One of his pseudonyms was ‘Jonathan Ryder’ which he used for his books ‘Trevayne’ and ‘The Cry of the Halidon’. Another was ‘Michael Shepherd’ that was used for his humorous books like ‘The Road to Gandolpho’.

Robert Ludlum wrote more than 25 thriller novels. His books in print have got over 290 million copies and have been translated in 32 languages. He was one of most successful thriller writer of the twentieth century. A book that he had been writing before his death was the ‘The Tristan Betrayal’ and it was published in 2003. When it was published posthumously there was a note saying:
“Since his death, the Estate of Robert Ludlum has worked with a careful selected author and editor to prepare and edit this work for publication.”

Robert Ludlum died on March 12th in 2001 due to a heart attack in his home in Florida. At the time he was recovering from injuries he had suffered due to a fire.

Robert Ludlum made an immense contribution to American literature. His books were about conspiracies, one heroic man who had to struggle against evil forces, obscure military forces and corrupt government organizations. Ludlum’s books also depicted terrorism.

Buy Books by Robert Ludlum

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Robert Ludlum

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