Danielle Fernandes Dominique Schuelein-Steel (born August 14, 1947), better known as Danielle Steel, is an American romantic novelist and author of mainstream dramas.Best known for drama and romance novels, Steel has sold more than 800 million copies of her books (as of 2005) worldwide and is the fourth best selling writer of all time, and is currently the bestselling author alive. Her novels have been on the New York Times bestseller list for over 390 consecutive weeks and 22 have been adapted for television.Steel was born 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 the founders of Löwenbräu beer. Her mother, born in Portugal, was the daughter of a diplomat. Steel was raised Catholic and had wanted to be a nun during her early years. She spent much of her childhood in France, 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. 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 1963–1967.Steel's novels have been translated into 28 languages and can be found in 47 countries across the globe. The books, often described as "formulaic," 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. The novels sometimes explore the world of the "rich and famous" 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-cons ex-husbands and other events that she kept hidden from the public.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. 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. 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. 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.Steel has been criticized for making her books overly redundant and detailed, 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.To avoid comparisons to her previous novels, Steel does not write sequels. 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.Twenty-two of her books have been adapted for television, 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. Columbia Pictures was the first movie studio to offer for one of her novels, purchasing the rights to The Ghost in 1998. Steel also reached an agreement with New Line Home Entertainment in 2005 to sell the film rights to 30 of her novels for DVDs.