Richard Leigh, a writer of alternative history who unsuccessfully sued for plagiarism over themes in Dan Brown’s novel “The Da Vinci Code,” Nov. 21 in London of causes related to a heart condition. He was 64.
U.S.-born Leigh, who had lived in Britain for three decades, was co-author of “The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail,” a work of speculative nonfiction that claimed Jesus Christ fathered a child with Mary Magdalene.
A best-seller on its release in 1982, the book gained new readers after Brown’s thriller, which explores similar themes and has sold more than 40 million copies, was released in 2003.
Leigh and co-author Michael Baigent sued Brown’s publisher Random House, claiming “The Da Vinci Code” “appropriated the architecture” of their book. In April 2006, a judge threw out the claim, saying the ideas in question were too general to be protected by copyright.
Baigent and Leigh collaborated on several other books, including “Holy Blood” sequel “The Messianic Legacy”; “The Dead Sea Scrolls Deception,” which alleged a Roman Catholic conspiracy to cover up the scrolls; and “Secret Germany,” about a plot to kill Adolf Hitler.