MEET E.L. JAMES: The Author Behind The Steamy '50 Shades Of Grey' Phenomenon

50 shades of grey

Photo: Knopf Doubleday / MSNBC

It’s no secret that the erotic book series 50 Shades of Grey is a hot topic. Women openly read it without shame on the subway and are going crazy casting the upcoming full-length movie, ourselves included.

Though most know by now that the raunchy books follow naive college graduate Anastasia Steele and her billionaire boyfriend Christian Grey, not much is known about E.L. James, the creator of the popular series. 

We dug around to find out more about the author of The New York Times best-seller that has every woman on the subway in a tizzy.

Find out everything you need to know about the author calling the novels her “midlife crisis.”

E.L. James is just a pen name.

E.L. James' real name is Erika Leonard.

She grew up in Buckinghamshire.

There, she was privately educated and took up English literature and history at the University of Kent.

Currently, the author resides in West London with her family.

She's a mum.

James is a 49-year-old British mother of two teenage sons.

She has said in interviews her sons are 'mortified' their mother wrote the explicit novels.

James is a former BBC production executive.

After college, she became a studio manager's assistant at the National Film and Television School in London where she met her future husband (more on him in a bit).

She then worked as a production manager for TV company, Shooting Stars. After that, James worked at BBC as a production executive.

She became obsessed with the 'Twilight' series after seeing the 2008 film based on the book of the same name.

James began writing her erotica series on Fanfiction.net. Early drafts of 50 Shades were written from the perspective of Bella and Edward from 'Twilight.' The two later transformed into Ana and Christian.

Reading the summary (to the left) the details of the original fan fiction directly mirror the initial chapters of 50 Shades, just with Bella and Edward's characters from 'Twilight.'

James shared this with the ladies of ABC's 'The View' when she was on the show May 11, 2012.

Her husband is scriptwriter Niall Leonard.

After meeting at the National Film and Television School, the two wed in 1987.

E.L. James' husband worked for both UK and American broadcasters writing scripts for television shows.

Among his credits are 'Monarch of the Glen,' 'Wire in the Blood' and 'Wild at Heart.'

He's currently working on new project 'Air Force One is Down.'

Leonard's personal website bio includes the following line at the bottom:

'He is married with two kids and a rather smelly dog and currently lives in West London.'

He tweeted out the following photo of the couple's dog saying,

'Tired of grumpy shaggy smelly dog. Swapped him for happy fat baldy dog.'


Yes, her husband has read the book.

James told the ladies of 'The View' he helped her edit the raunchy series.

We found her Twitter handle.

An old author page of James tells to contact her @SQicedragon.

Since her husband does indeed follow this Twitter handle, we can only suspect it is indeed James.

Unfortunately, (wisely?), her tweets are protected.

James doesn't know what to make of her success.

'It's very strange,' James told USA Today. 'It's just that everything has happened so quickly. It's like it's happening to someone else. They've just been shipping out books like nobody's business.'

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