Other Notable Deaths


December 01, 2007

RICHARD LEIGH, 64 Best-selling author

Richard Leigh, a writer of speculative history who unsuccessfully sued for plagiarism over themes in Dan Brown's blockbuster novel The Da Vinci Code, died Nov. 21 in London of complications from a heart condition, his agent said.

The U.S.-born Mr. Leigh, who had lived in Britain for three decades, was co-author of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, a work of nonfiction that claimed Jesus Christ fathered a child with Mary Magdalene and that the bloodline continues.

A best-seller upon its release in 1982, the book gained new readership after Brown's thriller was released in 2003.

Mr. Leigh and co-author Michael Baigent sued Mr. Brown's publisher, Random House, contending that The Da Vinci Code "appropriated the architecture" of their book. A third Holy Blood author, Henry Lincoln, did not join the suit.

In April 2006, a judge threw out their claim, saying the ideas in question were too general to be protected by copyright.

The high-profile court case sent Holy Blood back up the best-seller lists, but Mr. Baigent and Mr. Leigh were left with a bill estimated at $6.2 million after the judge ordered them to pay 85 percent of Random House's legal costs.

An attempt to appeal the ruling was rejected this year.

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