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Michael Crichton: A Background

The late author Michael Crichton was famous for his thought-provoking and sometimes controversial novels dealing with the possible affects of medicine and science.

He originally chose to study medicine at Harvard College, and graduate summa cum laude in 1964. His knowledge of medicine and science often became an important factor in his novels.


His first bestselling novel, ‘The Andromeda Strain’ was written and published in 1969 while he was still at university, though he wrote it under the pen name John Lange.

He went on to have 25 bestselling novels from 1969 until 2006, with 13 of them being made into films: the most successful of which was the 1993 blockbuster ‘Jurassic Park’.

Strange Habits

Crichton was noted for the strange habits he picked up while writing. For his first six years as an author, he tended to write under a psydoneum: either John Lange or Jeffrey Hudson.

  • Both were a comment on his height of 6 feet 9 inches – Lange meaning tall in German and Sir Jeffrey Hudson being a famous dwarf.
  • It is rumoured that at times he could write up to 10,000 words per day – although Crichton himself said that doing so was excruciating and often left him with writers block.
  • During the process of writing, he tended to eat the same meal every day, and would start writing earlier each day towards the end of the book.

He believed that it was important to make sure the information in his books was accurate, and so throughout his life he has reseached in depth topics such as Nordic myths, genetic engineering, medieval European history and airline deregulation.

Books into Film

Many of Crichton’s bestselling books have been turned into movies, beginning with ‘The Andromeda Strain’  and including ‘The Terminal Man’ in 1974, ‘Rising Sun’ in 1993 and ‘Disclosure’ in 1994.

Jurassic Park in 1993 is the most noted adaption, and grossed $914 million: currently the 11th highest grossing feature film.

It was also thought to be a landmark film, with the use of computer generated imagery. Since the film’s release, there have been two sequels, and a third is currently being developed.

Writing Passion

Crichton has said on his website that he started writing when he was very young, after he saw his father, a journalist, typing. “I was the weird kid who wrote extra assignments the teacher didn’t ask for. i just did it because I liked writing so much”.

Although he had wanted to be a writer from an early age, he “didn’t think it was likely [he] could make a living at it, so [he] went to medical school”. He continued to write while studying however, and after graduation decided to pursue it as a career.

Michael’s family have said that he “challenged our preconcieved notions about the world around us – and entertained us all while doing so…he will be profoundly missed”.

For an article on Michael Crichton’s influence on sci-fi, Click Here

Kirstie Nicols


November 8, 2008 - Posted by | Kirstie - Lifestyle | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] For background information on Michael Crichton, Click Here […]

    Pingback by Sci-Fi Dies With Michael Crichton « Don’t Know? | November 8, 2008 | Reply

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