E. L. James

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E L James
E. L. James.jpg
E L James in 2012
Born Erika Mitchell
(1963-03-07) 7 March 1963 (age 51)
London, England
Pen name EL James
Occupation Novelist
Citizenship British
Genres Drama, romance, erotica, fanfiction
Notable work(s) Fifty Shades of Grey
Spouse(s) Niall Leonard
Children 2 sons


Erika Leonard (née Mitchell; born 7 March 1963),[1] better known by the pen name E L James,[2] is the British author of the bestselling erotic romance novels trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed.[3][4] The combined novels have sold over 35 million copies in the United States, and over 70 million copies worldwide, setting the record as the fastest selling paperback of all time.[5][6] In 2012, Time magazine named her one of "The World's 100 Most Influential People."[7]

Early life[edit]

In 1963, James was born Erika Mitchell, to a Chilean mother and Scottish father, a BBC cameraman.[8][9] Raised in Buckinghamshire, James studied history at the University of Kent, before becoming a studio manager’s assistant at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield.[10]

Fifty Shades trilogy[edit]

James initially wrote fanfiction under the pen name "Snowqueens Icedragon", with her most notable work being a Twilight fanfiction that eventually developed into Fifty Shades of Grey,[11][12] and subsequent film adaptation.[13] James has spoken of her shock at the success of the book. "The explosion of interest has taken me completely by surprise" she said.[14] James has described the Fifty Shades trilogy as "my midlife crisis, writ large. All my fantasies in there, and that's it."[15] She did not start to write until January 2009, as she revealed while still active on fanfiction.net as Snowqueen's Icedragon: "I started writing in January 2009 after I finished the Twilight saga, and I haven't stopped since. I discovered Fan Fiction in August 2009. Since then I have written my two fics and plan on doing at least one more. After that... who knows?"[16] In August 2013, sales of the trilogy saw James top the Forbes' list of the highest-earning authors with earnings of $95m which included $5m for the film rights to Fifty Shades of Grey.[17]

Personal life[edit]

James formerly worked as a television executive.[18] She currently resides in west London with her husband, screenwriter and director Niall Leonard, whom she married in 1987,[19] and their two teenage sons.[11]

Awards and honours[edit]



  1. ^ "Biography for E L James". IMDb. 
  2. ^ Bentley, Paul (2012-06-17). "'Mummy porn' Fifty Shades Of Grey outstrips Harry Potter to become fastest selling paperback of all time". Daily Mail. 
  3. ^ Julie Bosman (2012-05-21). "Libraries Debate Stocking ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Trilogy". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ "The Shy British Mum Behind 50 Shades of Grey". Time Magazine. 
  5. ^ Who Should be Time's Person of the Year 2012? E.L. James.
  6. ^ {author} (2013-01-10). "“Fifty Shades of Grey” coming in hardcover". Salon.com. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  7. ^ The World's 100 Most Influential People.
  8. ^ E.L. James Biography.
  9. ^ 098M&S meets S&M Mum who erotic bestseller Fifty Shades Of Grey. The Sun. Retrieved 31 May 2012
  10. ^ "Forget Mills & Boon! The new literary trend is explicit 'erotic novels' aimed at middle-aged mothers whose marriages are in a rut". Daily Mail. Retrieved 31 May 2012
  11. ^ a b 'Fifty Shades of Grey' by E.L. James is selling books (and more) LA Times. Retrieved 31 May 2012
  12. ^ Triple-X trilogy of novels has women talking (quietly). msnbc. Retrieved 31 May 2012
  13. ^ Belloni, Matthew (20 February 2013). "Universal Chairman Wants 'Fifty Shades' for Summer 2014, More 'Bourne' and 'Van Helsing' Reboot (Q&A)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  14. ^ "Fifty Shades of Grey author E L James – Exclusive interview" (2012-07-16) Shropshire Star. Retrieved 16 Jul 2012
  15. ^ 'Fifty Shades' author 'stunned' at success of erotic trilogy TODAY MSNBC
  16. ^ The Lost History of Fifty Shades of Grey
  17. ^ "Fifty Shades makes EL James top-earning author". BBC News. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  18. ^ Who is E L James? Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 31 May 2012
  19. ^ "Niall Leonard". IMDb. Retrieved August 19, 2012. 
  20. ^ The 100 Most Influential People in the World Time Magazine. Retrieved 31 May 2012
  21. ^ Alison Flood (3 December 2012). "EL James wins 'publishing person of the year' for making erotic fiction 'hot'". The Guardian. Retrieved December 3, 2012. 
  22. ^ Molly Driscoll (December 3, 2012). "E L James as 'Publishing Person of the Year' draws outcry from literary world". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved December 5, 2012. 
  23. ^ Alison Flood (5 December 2012). "EL James comes out on top at National Book awards". The Guardian. Retrieved December 5, 2012. 
  24. ^ "EL James wins at National Book Awards". BBC News. 4 December 2012. Retrieved January 14, 2013. 

External links[edit]