Danielle Steel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Danielle Steel
Born Danielle Fernandes Dominique Schuelein-Steel
(1947-08-14) August 14, 1947 (age 70)
New York City, U.S.
Pen name Danielle Steel
Occupation Novelist
Nationality American
Alma mater New York University
Period Since 1978
Genre Mainstream, romance
  • Claude-Eric Lazard (1965–1974; divorced)
  • Danny Zugelder (1975–1978; divorced)
  • William George Toth (1978–1981; divorced)
  • John Traina (1981–1998; divorced)
  • Thomas Perkins (1998–2002; divorced)
Children 9 (1 deceased)


Danielle Fernandes Dominique Schuelein-Steel (born August 14, 1947) is an American novelist, currently the best selling author alive and the fourth bestselling fiction author of all time, with over 800 million copies sold.[1]

Based in California for most of her career, Steel has produced several books a year, often juggling up to five projects at once. Despite "a resounding lack of critical acclaim" (Publishers Weekly),[2] 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 prison, fraud, blackmail and suicide. Steel has also published children's fiction and poetry, as well as raising funds for the treatment of mental disorders. Her books have been translated into 43 languages,[3] with 22 adapted for television, including two that have received Golden Globe nominations.

Early years[edit]

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.[4][5][6][7] Steel was raised Catholic and had wanted to be a nun during her early years.[8] She spent much of her childhood in France,[9] 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.[6] Her parents divorced when she was eight, and she was raised primarily by her father, rarely seeing her mother.[10]

Steel started writing stories as a child, and by her late teens had begun writing poetry.[11] A 1963 graduate of the Lycée Français de New York,[12] she studied literature design and fashion design,[11] first at Parsons School of Design and then at New York University.[13]

Early career[edit]

In 1965, when she was 18, Steel married French-American banker Claude-Eric Lazard.[14] While a young wife, and still attending New York University, Steel began writing, completing her first manuscript at the age of 19.[11] After the birth of their daughter Beatrix,[15] Steel worked for a public-relations agency in New York called Supergirls. A magazine client was 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 as a copywriter for Grey Advertising.

Personal life[edit]

After nine years of marriage, 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. The heroine of Going Home was a divorced single mother.

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 career.[7]

Steel married her third husband, William George Toth, the day after her divorce from Zugelder was finalized. She was already 8​12 months pregnant with his child. 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.[7]

Steel married for the fourth time in 1981, to vintner John Traina.[15] 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 [16] (December 18, 1984) a fashion stylist, Maxx (February 10, 1986) and Zara (September 26, 1987).[14][15]

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.[17] 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.[10] 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.[18] The same year she also published a book of poetry, Love: Poems.[19]

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.[19]

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.[10] Steel is a prolific author, often releasing several books per year.[17] Each book takes 2½ years to complete,[11] 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.[17]

Her fear of flying created so many challenges in the early 1980s that she graduated from the non-profit organization The Fear of Flying Clinic, going on to serve as one of its directors for some years.[citation needed]

Nicholas Traina[edit]

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.[10] 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,[10] and the book was allowed to be published.[20]

The son at the center of the lawsuits, Nicholas Traina, committed suicide in 1997. 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[19] were used to found the Nick Traina Foundation, which Steel runs, to fund organizations dedicated to treating mental illness.[21] 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.[22]


Steel married for a fifth time, to Silicon Valley financier Thomas James Perkins, but the marriage ended after four years in 2002.[23] Steel has said that her novel The Klone and I was inspired by a private joke between herself and Perkins.[24] 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 closed in 2007.[25] 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 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.

Danielle Steel's longtime residence in San Francisco, built in 1913 as the mansion of sugar tycoon Adolph B. Spreckels

Steel's longtime residence was in San Francisco,[25] but she now spends most of her time at a second home in Paris.[26] Despite her public image and varied pursuits, Steel is known to be shy[25] and because of that and her desire to protect her children from the tabloids,[10] she rarely grants interviews or makes public appearances.[27] Her 55-room San Francisco home was built in 1913 as the mansion of sugar tycoon Adolph B. Spreckels.[28]


Steel's novels have been translated into 43 languages and can be found in 69 countries across the globe.[3] The books, often described as "formulaic,"[29] 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.[30] The novels sometimes explore the world of the rich and famous[29] 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-con ex-husbands and other events that she kept hidden from the public.[2]

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.[17] 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.[14] 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.[31] 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.[29]

Steel has been criticized for making her books overly redundant and detailed,[32] 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.[33]

To avoid comparisons to her previous novels, Steel does not write sequels.[11] 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.[34]

Twenty-two of her books have been adapted for television,[35] 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.[17] Columbia Pictures was the first movie studio to offer for one of her novels, purchasing the rights to The Ghost in 1998.[35] Steel also reached an agreement with New Line Home Entertainment in 2005 to sell the film rights to 30 of her novels for DVDs.



A list of all novels by Danielle Steel, linked to from Steel's official site,[36] can be found here.

Year Title
1973 Going Home
1977 Passion's Promise (US) / Golden Moments (UK)
1978 Now and Forever
1978 The Promise
1979 Season of Passion
1979 Summer's End
1980 The Ring
1981 Palomino
1981 To Love Again
1981 Remembrance
1981 Loving
1982 Once in a Lifetime
1982 Crossings
1983 A Perfect Stranger
1983 Thurston House
1983 Changes
1984 Full Circle*
1985 Family Album*
1985 Secrets
1986 Wanderlust*
1987 Fine Things*
1987 Kaleidoscope*
1988 Zoya*
1989 Star*
1989 Daddy*
1990 Message From Nam
1991 Heartbeat*
1991 No Greater Love
1992 Jewels*
1992 Mixed Blessings*
1993 Vanished
1994 Accident*
1994 The Gift*
1994 Wings
1995 Lightning
1995 Five Days In Paris*
1996 Malice
1996 Silent Honor*
1997 The Ranch
1997 Special Delivery*
1997 The Ghost*
1998 The Long Road Home*
1998 The Klone and I*
1998 His Bright Light
1998 Mirror Image
1999 Bittersweet*
1999 Granny Dan
1999 Irresistible Forces
2000 The Wedding*
2000 The House On Hope Street*
2000 Journey
2001 Lone Eagle
2001 Leap Of Faith*
2001 The Kiss*
2002 The Cottage
2002 Sunset in St. Tropez
2002 Answered Prayers*
2003 Dating Game
2003 Johnny Angel*
2003 Safe Harbour
2004 Ransom
2004 Second Chance
2004 Echoes
2005 Impossible
2005 Miracle
2005 Toxic Bachelors
2006 The House*
2006 Coming Out
2006 H.R.H.
2007 Sisters
2007 Bungalow 2
2007 Amazing Grace
2008 Honor Thyself
2008 Rogue
2008 A Good Woman
2009 One Day at a Time
2009 Matters Of The Heart
2009 Southern Lights
2010 Big Girl
2010 Family Ties
2010 Legacy
2011 44 Charles Street
2011 Happy Birthday
2011 Hotel Vendome
2012 Betrayal
2012 Friends Forever
2012 The Sins of the Mother
2012 A Gift of Hope
2013 Until the End of Time*
2013 First Sight
2013 Winners
2014 Power Play
2014 A Perfect Life
2014 Pegasus
2015 Prodigal Son
2015 Country
2015 Undercover
2015 Precious Gifts
2016 Blue*
2016 Property of a Noble Woman
2016 The Apartment
2016 Magic
2016 Rushing Waters
2016 The Award
2017 The Mistress
2017 Dangerous Games
2017 Against All Odds
2017 The Duchess
2017 The Right Time
2017 Fairytale
2017 Past Perfect
2018 Fall from Grace
2018 Accidental Heroes
2018 The Cast
2018 The Good Fight
  • *Denotes New York Times Number 1 Hardcover Fiction Bestseller


  • Love: Poems (1984)
  • Having a Baby (1984)
  • His Bright Light (1998)
  • A Gift of Hope: Helping the Homeless (2012)
  • Pure Joy: The Dogs We Love (2013)

Picture books[edit]

  • The Happiest Hippo in the World (2009)
  • Pretty Minnie in Paris (2014)
  • Pretty Minnie in Hollywood (2016)

Children's books[edit]

Max & Martha series[edit]

  • 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 series[edit]

  • Freddie's Trip (1992)
  • Freddie's First Night Away (1992)
  • Freddie and the Doctor (1992)
  • Freddie's Accident (1992)


  1. The Promise (1979)
  2. Now and Forever (1983)
  3. Crossings (1986)
  4. Kaleidoscope (1990)
  5. Fine Things (1990)
  6. Changes (1991)
  7. Palomino (1991)
  8. Daddy (1991)
  9. Jewels (1992)
  10. Secrets (1992)
  11. Message from Nam (1993)
  12. Star (1993)
  13. Heartbeat (1993)
  14. Family Album (1994)
  15. A Perfect Stranger (1994)
  16. Once in a Lifetime (1994)
  17. Mixed Blessings (1995)
  18. Zoya (1995)
  19. Vanished (1995)
  20. The Ring (1996)
  21. Full Circle (1996)
  22. Remembrance (1996)
  23. No Greater Love (1996)
  24. Safe Harbour (2007)
  25. Hotel Vendome to be directed by Lawrence Kasdan

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Five Top Bestselling Authors of All Time". Historythings.com. 24 February 2017. Retrieved 13 November 2017. 
  2. ^ a b "The Lives of Danielle Steel: The Unauthorized Biography of America's #1 Best-Selling Author". Publishersweekly.com. Retrieved 13 November 2017. 
  3. ^ a b "About Danielle Steel". Official website of Danielle Steel. Retrieved 12 August 2017. She is published in 69 countries and 43 languages. 
  4. ^ "Lonely heart". The Age. Melbourne. 2006-03-19. 
  5. ^ Kort, C. (2007). A to Z of American Women Writers. Facts On File, Incorporated. p. 311. ISBN 9781438107936. Retrieved 2014-10-06. 
  6. ^ a b "Danielle Steel". Books At Transworld. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  7. ^ a b c Chin, Paula (29 June 1992). "Danielle Steel". People Magazine. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  8. ^ "Author Danielle Steel had childhood dreams of becoming a nun". Reuters. 2008-02-22. 
  9. ^ Holfer, Robert (2005-01-05). "Danielle Steel". Variety. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f Angel, Karen (March 19, 2006). "Lonely Heart". Melbourne: The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  11. ^ a b c d e L., Rosanne (July 2004). "Meet the Author: Danielle Steel". Reader's Club. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  12. ^ "Alumni and Prof.'s on the Internet". Alumni Association of the Lycée Français de New York, Inc. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  13. ^ "Meet the Writers: Danielle Steel". Barnes and Noble. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  14. ^ a b c Carroll, Jerry (1995-10-22). "Danielle Steel's Plot Thickens". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  15. ^ a b c Kennedy, Dana (December 20, 1996). "Steel Magnolia". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  16. ^ "The 10 best dressed". Matches Fashion. 
  17. ^ a b c d e Segretto, Mike (2005). "Meet the Writers: Danielle Steel". Barnes and Noble. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  18. ^ "Having a Baby (Hardcover)". Amazon. Com. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  19. ^ a b c "Danielle Steel". Book Reporter. Archived from the original on April 1, 2012. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  20. ^ Williams, Lance (September 21, 1997). "Novelist Danielle Steel's son dies". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  21. ^ Bigelow, Catherine (May 9, 2004). "Swells". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  22. ^ Zinko, Carolyne (2002-05-08). "Steel's gala draws lots of star power". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  23. ^ Steger, Pat (August 11, 1999). "Steel, Perkins Separate After 17-Month Marriage". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  24. ^ Donnally, Trish (February 26, 1998). "A New Chapter in Steel Romance". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  25. ^ a b c Baker, Kenneth (September 30, 2003). "Danielle Steel to open gallery for lesser-knowns". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  26. ^ 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.' 
  27. ^ Carroll, Jerry (January 7, 1997). "Danielle Steel Says Biography Wrecked Her Marriage". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  28. ^ "Tour San Francisco: Pacific Heights". iNetours.com. Retrieved 2008-01-10. 
  29. ^ a b c Melnick, Sheri (2005). "Toxic Bachelors". RomanticTimes Magazine. Archived from the original on 2007-10-17. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  30. ^ Melnick, Sheri (2004). "Safe Harbour". Romantic Times Magazine. Archived from the original on 2007-10-17. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  31. ^ Melnick, Sheri (2004). "Ransom". RomanticTimes Magazine. Archived from the original on 2007-10-17. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  32. ^ Mbubaegbu, Chine (12 March 2007). "Sisters by Danielle Steel". inthenews.co.uk. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  33. ^ Crutcher, Wendy. "Lone Eagle". The Romance Reader. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  34. ^ Maryles, Daisy (July 12, 2004). "Steel at 61". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 2007-04-19.  "incontri". 
  35. ^ a b Fleming, Michael (February 3, 1998). "Col helps Steel break into pic biz". Variety. Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  36. ^ "Library", Danielle Steel official site.

External links[edit]