Danielle Steel Biography & Facts
Danielle Fernandes Dominique Schuelein-Steel (born August 14, 1947) is an American writer, best known for her romance novels. She is the bestselling author alive and the fourth-bestselling fiction author of all time, with over 800 million copies sold. As of 2021, she has written 190 books, including over 140 novels.
Based in California for most of her career, Steel has produced several books a year, often juggling up to five projects at once. All of her novels have been bestsellers, including those issued in hardback, despite "a resounding lack of critical acclaim" (Publishers Weekly). Her books often involve rich families facing a crisis, threatened by dark elements such as prison, fraud, blackmail and suicide. Steel has also published children's fiction and poetry, as well as creating a foundation that funds mental illness related organizations. Her books have been translated into 43 languages, with 22 adapted for television, including two that have received Golden Globe nominations.
1947–1965: Early life
Steel was born Danielle Fernandes Dominique Schuelein-Steel in New York City to a German father and a Portuguese mother. Her father, John Schulein-Steel, was a German-Jewish immigrant and a descendant of owners of Löwenbräu beer. Her mother, Norma da Camara Stone dos Reis, was the daughter of a Portuguese diplomat. She spent much of her childhood in France, where from an early age she was included in her parents' dinner parties, giving her an opportunity to observe the habits and lives of the wealthy and famous. Her parents divorced when she was eight, and she was raised primarily by her father, rarely seeing her mother.Steel started writing stories as a child, and by her late teens had begun writing poetry. Raised Catholic, she thought of becoming a nun during her early years. A 1965 graduate of the Lycée Français de New York, she studied literature design and fashion design, first at Parsons School of Design and then at New York University.
1965–1971: Career beginnings
While still attending New York University, Steel began writing, completing her first manuscript at 19. Steel worked for a public-relations agency in New York called Supergirls. A client, Ladies' Home Journal editor John Mack Carter, encouraged her to focus on writing, having been impressed with her freelance articles. He suggested she write a book, which she did. She later moved to San Francisco and worked as a copywriter for Grey Advertising.
1972–1981: First novels and growing success
Her first novel, Going Home, was published in 1973. The novel contained many of the themes that her writing would become well known for, including a focus on family issues and human relationships. Her relationship with her second husband influenced Passion's Promise and Now and Forever, the two novels that launched her career. With the success of her fourth book, The Promise, she became a participant in San Francisco high society.
1981–1996: Fame and expansion to new genres
Beginning in 1981, Steel had become a near-permanent fixture on The New York Times hardcover and paperback bestsellers lists. In 1989, she was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for having a book on the New York Times Bestseller List for the most consecutive weeks of any author—381 consecutive weeks at that time. Steel is a prolific author, often releasing several books per year. Each book takes 2½ years to complete, so Steel has developed an ability to juggle up to five projects at once, researching one book while outlining another, then writing and editing additional books. Since her first book was published, every one of her novels has hit bestseller lists in paperback, and each one released in hardback has also been a hardback bestseller.During this time, Steel also expanded to non-fiction work. Having a Baby was published in 1984 and featured a chapter by Steel about suffering through miscarriage. The same year she published a book of poetry, Love: Poems. She also ventured into children's fiction, penning a series of 10 illustrated books for young readers. These books, known as the "Max and Martha" series, aim to help children face real-life problems: new baby, new school, loss of loved one, etc. In addition, Steel has authored the "Freddie" series. These four books address other real-life situations: first night away from home, trip to the doctor, etc.In 1993, Steel sued a writer who intended to disclose in her book that her son Nick was adopted by her then-current husband John Traina, despite the fact that adoption records are sealed in California. A San Francisco judge made a highly unusual ruling allowing the seal on Nick's adoption to be overturned, although he was still a minor. This order was confirmed by a California Appellate Judge, who ruled that because Steel was famous, her son's adoption did not have the same privacy right, and the book was allowed to be published.
1997–present: Continued success and awards
After years of near-constant writing, in 2003 Steel opened an art gallery in San Francisco, Steel Gallery, which showed contemporary work and exhibited the paintings and sculptures of emerging artists. The gallery closed in 2007. She continues to curate shows a few times a year for the Andrea Schwartz Gallery in San Francisco.
In 2002, Steel was decorated by the French government as an Officier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, for her contributions to world culture.
She has additionally received:
Induction into the California Hall of Fame, December 2009.
"Distinguished Service in Mental Health Award" (first time awarded to a non-physician) from New York Presbyterian Hospital, Department of Psychiatry and Columbia University Medical School and Cornell Medical College, May 2009.
"Outstanding Achievement Award" for work with adolescents from Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco, May 2003.
"Service to Youth Award" for improving the lives of adolescents and children with mental accessibility issues from the University of San Francisco Catholic Youth Organization and St. Mary's Medical Center, November 1999.
"Outstanding Achievement Award" in Mental Health from the California Psychiatric Association
"Distinguished Service Award" from the American Psychiatric AssociationIn 2006 Steel reached an agreement with Elizabeth Arden to launch a new perfume, Danielle by Danielle Steel.
Steel married French-American banker Claude-Eric Lazard in 1965 at age 18 and gave birth to their daughter Beatrix. Steel and Lazard separated in 1972. While still married to Lazard, Steel met Danny Zugelder while interviewing an inmate in a prison near Lompoc, California, where Zugelder was also incarcerated. He moved in with Steel when he was paroled in June 1973, but returned to prison in early 1974 on robbery and rape charges. After receiving her divorce from Lazard in 1975, she married Zugelder in the prison canteen. During their relationship, Steel suffered multiple miscarriages. .... Discover the Danielle Steel popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Danielle Steel books.