|Born||Danielle Fernandes Dominique Schuelein-Steel
August 14, 1947
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Pen name||Danielle Steel|
|Alma mater||New York University|
|Spouse(s)||Claude-Eric Lazard (1965–1974; divorced)
Danny Zugelder (1975–1978; divorced)
William George Toth (1978–1981; divorced)
John Traina (1981–1998; divorced)
Thomas James Perkins (1998–2002; divorced)
Danielle Steel (born August 14, 1947) is an American novelist, currently the bestselling author alive and the fourth bestselling author of all time, with over 800 million copies sold.
Based in California for most of her career, Steel has produced several books a year, often juggling up to five projects at once. All her novels have been bestsellers, including those issued in hardback. Her formula is fairly consistent, often involving rich families facing a crisis, threatened by dark elements such as jail, fraud, blackmail and suicide. Steel has also published children's fiction and poetry, as well as raising funds for the treatment of mental illness. Her books have been translated into 28 languages, with 22 adapted for television, including two that have received Golden Globe nominations.
Steel was born Danielle Fernandes Dominique Schuelein-Steel in New York City, the only child of Norma da Câmara Stone dos Reis and John Schulein-Steel. Her father was a German Jewish immigrant, a descendant of owners of Löwenbräu beer. Her mother, born in Portugal, was the daughter of a diplomat. Steel was raised Catholic and had wanted to be a nun during her early years. 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, however, and she was raised primarily in New York City and Europe by her father, rarely seeing her mother.
Steel started writing stories as a child, and by her late teens had begun writing poetry. A graduate of the Lycée Français de New York, class of 1963, she studied literature design and fashion design, first at Parsons School of Design in 1963 and then at New York University from 1963–1967.
In 1965, when she was only 18, Steel married French-American banker Claude-Eric Lazard. While a young wife, and still attending New York University, Steel began writing, completing her first manuscript the following year, when she was nineteen. After the birth of their daughter, Beatrix, in 1966, Steel worked for a public relations agency in New York called Supergirls for several years. A magazine client was highly impressed with her freelance articles and encouraged her to focus on writing and suggested she write a book, which she did. She later moved to San Francisco, and worked for Grey Advertising, as a copywriter.
After nine years of marriage and many years of separation, Steel and Lazard divorced. In 1972 her first novel, Going Home, was published. The novel contained many of the themes that her writing would become known for, including a focus on family issues and human relationships.
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. She divorced him in 1978, but the relationship spawned Passion's Promise and Now and Forever, the two novels that launched her successful career.
Steel married her third husband, William George Toth, the day after her divorce from Zugelder was finalized. She was already 8½ months pregnant with his child, Nicholas. With the success of her fourth book, The Promise, she became a participant in San Francisco high society while Toth, a former drug addict, was left out. They divorced in March 1981.
Steel married for the fourth time in 1981, to vintner John Traina. Traina subsequently adopted Steel's son Nick and gave him his family name. Together they had an additional five children, Samantha (April 14, 1982), Victoria (September 5, 1983), Vanessa  (December 18, 1984) a fashion stylist, Maxx (February 10, 1986) and Zara (September 26, 1987).
Coincidentally, beginning with her marriage to Traina in 1981, Steel has been 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. 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 contributed to her first non-fiction work. Having a Baby was published in 1984 and featured a chapter by Steel about suffering through miscarriage. The same year she also published a book of poetry, Love: Poems.
Steel 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.
Determined to spend as much time as possible with her own children, Steel often wrote at night, making do with only four hours of sleep, so that she could be with her children during the day. 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.
Her fear of flying created so many challenges in the early 1980s that she attended and successfully graduated from the non-profit organization The Fear of Flying Clinic, going on to serve as one of its directors for some years.
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. The 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.
The son at the center of the lawsuits, Nicholas Traina, committed suicide in 1997 as a result of heroin overdose. Traina was the lead singer of San Francisco punk bands Link 80 and Knowledge. To honor his memory, Steel wrote the nonfiction book His Bright Light, about Nick's life and death. Proceeds of the book, which reached the New York Times Non-Fiction Bestseller List were used to found the Nick Traina Foundation, which Steel runs, to fund organizations dedicated to treating mental illness. To gain more recognition for children's mental illnesses, Steel has lobbied for legislation in Washington, and previously held a fundraiser every two years (known as The Star Ball) in San Francisco.
Steel married for a fifth time, to Silicon Valley financier Thomas James Perkins, but the marriage ended after four years in 2002. Steel has said that her novel The Klone and I was inspired by a private joke between herself and Perkins. In 2006, Perkins dedicated his novel Sex and the Single Zillionaire to Steel.
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 subsequently closed in 2007. She continues to curate shows once or twice 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 mentally ill adolescents and children 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 Association
In 2006 Steel reached an agreement with Elizabeth Arden to launch a new perfume, Danielle by Danielle Steel.
Steel's longtime residence was in San Francisco, but she now spends most of her time at a second home in Paris. Despite her public image and varied pursuits, Steel is known to be shy and because of that and her desire to protect her children from the tabloids, she rarely grants interviews or public appearances. Her 55-room San Francisco home was built in 1913 as the mansion of sugar tycoon Adolph B. Spreckels.
Steel's novels have been translated into 28 languages and can be found in 47 countries across the globe. The books, often described as "formulaic," tend to involve the characters in a crisis of some sort which threatens their relationship. Many of her characters are considered over-the-top, making her books seem less realistic. The novels sometimes explore the world of the rich and famous and frequently deal with serious life issues, like illness, death, loss, family crises, and relationships. Also, there are claims that her popular story lines are based from the events of her life like having two ex-cons ex-husbands and other events that she kept hidden from the public.
Despite a reputation among critics for writing "fluff", Steel often delves into the less savory aspects of human nature, including incest, suicide, divorce, war, and even the Holocaust. As time has progressed, Steel's writing has evolved. Her later heroines tend to be stronger and more authoritative, who, if they do not receive the level of respect and attention they desire from a man, move on to a new life. In recent years Steel has also been willing to take more risks with her plots. Ransom focuses more on suspense than romance, and follows three sets of seemingly unconnected characters as their lives begin to intersect. Toxic Bachelors departs from her usual style by telling the story through the eyes of the three title characters, men who are relationship phobic and ultimately discover their true loves.
Steel has been criticized for making her books overly redundant and detailed, explicitly telling the story to readers instead of showing it to them. This sometimes has the effect of making the readers feel like they are on the outside looking in rather than living the story.
To avoid comparisons to her previous novels, Steel does not write sequels. Although many of her earliest books were released with initial print runs of 1 million copies, by 2004 her publisher had decreased the number of books initially printed to 650,000 due to the decline in people buying books. However, her fan base is still extremely strong with Steel's books selling out atop charts worldwide.
Twenty-two of her books have been adapted for television, including two that have received Golden Globe nominations. One is Jewels, the story of the survival of a woman and her children in World War II Europe, and the family's eventual rebirth as one of the greatest jewelry houses in Europe. Columbia Pictures was the first movie studio to offer for one of her novels, purchasing the rights to The Ghost in 1998. Steel also reached an agreement with New Line Home Entertainment in 2005 to sell the film rights to 30 of her novels for DVDs.
- *Denotes New York Times Number 1 Hardcover Fiction Bestseller
- Love: Poems (1984)
- Having a Baby (1984)
- His Bright Light (1998)
- Pure Joy: The Dogs We Love (2013)
- The Happiest Hippo in the World (2009)
Max & Martha series
- Martha's New Daddy (1989)
- Max and the Babysitter (1989)
- Martha's Best Friend (1989)
- Max's Daddy Goes to the Hospital (1989)
- Max's New Baby (1989)
- Martha's New School (1989)
- Max Runs Away (1990)
- Martha's New Puppy (1990)
- Max and Grandma and Grampa Winky (1991)
- Martha and Hilary and the Stranger (1991)
- Freddie's Trip (1992)
- Freddie's First Night Away (1992)
- Freddie and the Doctor (1992)
- The Promise (1979)
- Now and Forever (1983)
- Crossings (1986)
- Kaleidoscope (1990)
- Fine Things (1990)
- Changes (1991)
- Palomino (1991)
- Daddy (1991)
- Jewels (1992)
- Secrets (1992)
- Message from Nam (1993)
- Star (1993) (TV)
- Heartbeat (1993)
- Family Album (1994)
- A Perfect Stranger (1994)
- Once in a Lifetime (1994)
- Mixed Blessings (1995)
- Zoya (1995)
- Vanished (1995)
- The Ring (1996)
- Full Circle (1996)
- Remembrance (1996)
- No Greater Love (1996)
- Safe Harbour (2007)
- Hotel Vendome (2014) to be directed by Lawrence Kasdan
- "Lonely heart". The Age (Melbourne). 2006-03-19.
- "Danielle Steel". Books At Transworld. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- Chin, Paula (29 June 1992). "Danielle Steel". People Magazine. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
- "Author Danielle Steel had childhood dreams of becoming a nun". Reuters. 2008-02-22.
- Holfer, Robert (2005-01-05). "Danielle Steel". Variety. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- Angel, Karen (March 19, 2006). "Lonely Heart". Melbourne: The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- L., Rosanne (July 2004). "Meet the Author: Danielle Steel". Reader's Club. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- "Alumni and Prof.'s on the Internet". Alumni Association of the Lycée Français de New York, Inc. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- "Meet the Writers: Danielle Steel". Barnes and Noble. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- Carroll, Jerry (1995-10-22). "Danielle Steel's Plot Thickens". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- Kennedy, Dana (December 20, 1996). "Steel Magnolia". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- "The 10 best dressed". Matches Fashion.
- Segretto, Mike (2005). "Meet the Writers: Danielle Steel". Barnes and Noble. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- "Having a Baby (Hardcover)". Amazon.Com. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- "Danielle Steel". Book Reporter. Retrieved 2007-04-19.[dead link]
- Williams, Lance (September 21, 1997). "Novelist Danielle Steel's son dies". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- Donnally, Trish (September 23, 1997). "Novelist Blames Depression in Son's Apparent Overdose". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- Bigelow, Catherine (May 9, 2004). "Swells". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- Zinko, Carolyne (2002-05-08). "Steel's gala draws lots of star power". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- Steger, Pat (August 11, 1999). "Steel, Perkins Separate After 17-Month Marriage". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- Donnally, Trish (February 26, 1998). "A New Chapter in Steel Romance". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- Baker, Kenneth (September 30, 2003). "Danielle Steel to open gallery for lesser-knowns". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- Kaufman, David (7 May 2011). "Danielle Steel". The Wall Street Journal. "For much of her career, Danielle Steel was best known as a couture-clad San Francisco writer and society gal with a handful of husbands and a soccer-team's worth of kids. But the author—who has sold nearly 600 million books—now lives mostly in Paris, happily husband-less...'San Francisco is a great city to raise children, but I was very happy to leave it. There's no style, nobody dresses up—you can't be chic there. It's all shorts and hiking books and Tevas—it's as if everyone is dressed to go on a camping trip. I don't think people really care how they look there; and I look like a mess when I'm there, too.'"
- Carroll, Jerry (January 7, 1997). "Danielle Steel Says Biography Wrecked Her Marriage". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- "Tour San Francisco: Pacific Heights". iNetours.com. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- Melnick, Sheri (2005). "Toxic Bachelors". RomanticTimes Magazine. Archived from the original on 2007-10-17. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- Melnick, Sheri (2004). "Safe Harbour". Romantic Times Magazine. Archived from the original on 2007-10-17. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- "The Lives of Danielle Steel: The Unauthorized Biography of America's #1 Best-Selling Author".
- Melnick, Sheri (2004). "Ransom". RomanticTimes Magazine. Archived from the original on 2007-10-17. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- Mbubaegbu, Chine (12 March 2007). "Sisters by Danielle Steel". inthenews.co.uk. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- Crutcher, Wendy. "Lone Eagle". The Romance Reader. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- Maryles, Daisy (July 12, 2004). "Steel at 61". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2007-04-19.[dead link]
- Fleming, Michael (February 3, 1998). "Col helps Steel break into pic biz". Variety. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
- List compiled by author
- Official website
- Official UK website
- Personal website
- Danielle Steel at Internet Book List
- Danielle Steel at Random House Australia
- An October 2000 review of His Bright Light by Dr. Jeffrey L. Geller on an American Psychiatric Association website
- Danielle Steel at the Internet Movie Database
- Steel Gallery
- The Nick Traina Foundation
- Works by or about Danielle Steel in libraries (WorldCat catalog)