The news that author Dan Brown donated €300,000 (£237,000) to Amsterdam’s Ritman Library, also known as the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica, to aid them in digitising manuscripts, was fantastic to hear. It’s always incredible to hear of successful individuals using some of their wealth for the greater good, and Brown’s investment into literature is a terrific example of this.
Brown was inspired by many of the old manuscripts on mysticism at this library when writing some of his bestsellers (The Lost Symbol, Inferno) and made the donation to enable the library to digitise some of these texts and make them available worldwide. It’s so important to protect and promote literature, especially antique, rare scripts, and Brown’s investment into the future was a very inspiring and selfless move to do this. Speaking about the donation, Brown stated it was a ‘great honour to play a role in this important preservation initiative’, while also mentioning his excitement at seeing the texts digitised.
A spokeswoman for the Ritman Library talked of Brown’s donation, commenting that thanks to his generous contribution they would be able to digitise their entire core collection. For people like me, who were captivated by Brown’s novels (particularly Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code), the knowledge that original texts on mysticism that inspired many of his cryptic books will be available to read online is an exciting prospect. It’s a great step forward for the preservation of literature and even more so to inspire young or aspiring authors. Understandably, research is crucial to the process of writing and the encouragement to visit and access library resources (online or in person) is a positive step forward for the use of such public services.
Image: Ritman Library – Wikimedia Commons
I’d like to think everyone is capable of being charitable for something, or somewhere, that gave them their success, and Brown’s contribution is definitely an important one for a cause that may not have received enough funding otherwise. Whilst many other celebrities have been known to make ridiculously generous donations, such as actress Jami Gertz and her husband Antony Ressler who gave $10,569,002 to their Ressler Gertz Foundation (which gave grants to various institutions including museums and medical centres), Brown’s contribution to valuable heritage was nevertheless a tremendous service to literature.
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