Daily Trivia: Michael Chrichton

Michael Crichton was born in Chicago in 1942. He grew up in a suburb of New York where his father was the editor of Advertising Age magazine.

Crichton had always been fond of writing. So he went to Harvard to be an English major, but one of his professors didn’t like his writing style and kept giving him C’s. So for an essay on Gulliver’s Travels, he turned in an essay written not by him but by George Orwell, and the professor gave him a B- on that.

He figured that if Orwell only got a B- at Harvard, the English department was too difficult for him, so he went ahead and switched his major from English to anthropology.

He went on to medical school, but tuition was so expensive that he decided to keep writing to make some extra money, and he tried his hand at novels.

His first novel was Odds On (1966).  Chrichton published his first thrillers under the pen name John Lange — lange is the German word for “tall” and at 6 feet and 9 inches, Michael Crichton is a tall man.

He was publishing between two and three novels a year, so he wanted a different pseudonym for some of them, and chose “Jeffrey Hudson” for his first big medical thriller, A Case of Need (1968) — Jeffrey Hudson was a famous 17th-century dwarf in the court of King Charles I. 

The Andromeda Strain (1969), published under his own name, was a best-seller, and Crichton decided to devote his career to writing after all.

He went on to write a series of thrillers, many of them exploring the unintended consequences of science or technology gone too far. His books include Jurassic Park (1990), Rising Sun (1992), and State of Fear (2004).

Michael Crichton managed to be a huge success not only in the literary world, but also in film and television. He was a Hollywood director, and he wrote the screenplay for some of the film adaptations of his books, including Jurassic Park. He also created the hit TV series E.R.


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