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Steel, Danielle


STEEL, DANIELLE (1947– ), U.S. author. Danielle Fernande Schuelein-Steel, one of the bestselling authors in American history, was born in New York to a German-Jewish father and a Portuguese mother. Steel, who studied at the Parsons School of Design in New York, New York University, and in Europe, had sold more than 500 million copies of the romance novels for which she is best known by 2005. From her first published book, Going Home (1973), to The House, one or more of her 67 novels were on The New York Times bestseller list for almost 400 consecutive weeks, and 21 of them were adapted for television. Her books, which explore subjects like kidnapping, incest, illness, death, divorce, adoption, marriage, loss, cancer, war, and suicide, appear in 47 countries and in 28 languages. Her historical themes sometimes shed new light on familiar events.

After she completed her education, Steel worked in public relations in New York and then in advertising in San Francisco. In addition to her novels for adults, Steel wrote the "Max and Martha" series of books for young readers. They comprise 10 illustrated storybooks written to comfort youngsters as they face such problems as a new stepfather, new baby, new school, loss of a grandparent, or other crucial problems. She also wrote four "Freddie" books about real-life situations in children's lives, like a visit to the doctor and the first night away from home. She published a book of poetry and two nonfiction books, Having a Baby and His Bright Light, about the life and death by suicide of her son Nicholas Traina. As a result of her own dysfunctional family – she was married five times, twice to convicts – Steel was said to have maintained a strong interest in children's well-being. She raised nine children, seven of them her own. In 2002 she was decorated by the French government as a chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters for her lifetime contribution to world culture. She founded and ran two foundations, one named for her late son, which finances organizations involved in mental illness and child abuse. The second was established to assist the homeless. In 2003 she opened an art gallery in San Francisco to show emerging artists.

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]

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