Name: Erica Leonard
Born: 7 March 1963
Born and raised in Buckinghamshire, Erika Leonard adopted the pseudonym E.L. James upon publication of her popular Fifty Shades trilogy. She started as a history major at the University of Kent and then went on to follow in her father’s footsteps by pursuing a career in the television industry, where she eventually rose to become an executive.
While James spent a great deal of time reading and enjoying her career, she didn’t really begin writing until 2009. At that time she, like so many others, became enamored with the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyers. She started out by writing fan fiction based on the Twilight stories, but her readers didn’t like the sexually explicit nature of the stories, so she removed them from the web. What was first Masters of the Universe was edited to change the names of the characters and to alter the storylines.
It wasn’t until 2011 that James decided to publish the first installment of Fifty Shades of Grey, which was at first an e-book and print-on-demand paperback. The original publishing group, The Writer’s Coffee Shop, published the 2nd and 3rd installments within a year. As popularity grew, Vintage stepped in in early 2012 and published the first true print edition of the series. Despite the criticism the books have received, it managed to stay at the top of bestseller charts for more than 20 weeks.
The 49-year-old James is married o scriptwriter Niall Leonard. She is the mother of two boys who she claims were “mortified” about her explicit novels. That said, they’re probably not too upset about her current net worth of approximately $60 million, with more on the horizon as the books continue selling and move down the path towards film adaptation.
So how much is $60 million really?
E.L. James has more than enough to pursue some writing classes, which I’m sure would please the English grammar freaks who have been criticizing her books. Of course, that money would probably be well-spent putting her two boys through whatever colleges their hearts desire, since money will be no object going forward.
Her husband often jokes in his own interviews that they own a “smelly dog.” It might be cool if the family gave back to more animals by donating to or opening more local shelters. Imagine the number of smelly dogs who could have baths – and find loving forever homes!