Danielle Steel is an American novelist, currently the best selling author alive and the fourth bestselling author of all time, with over 800 million copies sold.
Danielle Steel short biography
Danielle Steel, in full Danielle Fernande Schuelein-Steel was born on 14th August, 1947 in New York City.
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 to 1967.
In 1965, when she was 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. 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 career.
Steel married her third husband, William George Toth, the day after her divorce from Zugelder was finalized. She was already 81⁄2 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, Victoria, Vanessa, Maxx and Zara.
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.
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.
Steel’s longtime residence was in San Francisco, but she now spends most of her time at a second home in Paris