E. L. James

English Author

Erika Leonard, popularly known by her pen name E. L. James, is a British writer whose erotic novel series broke records.

Born in London to a Chilean mother and Scottish father, Erika will go on to become the writer of the best-selling erotic romance trilogy, popularly called the Fifty Shades Trilogy. Erika wrote her first novel after reading ‘Twilight’ by Stephenie Meyer. The story soon inspired her to create a fan-fiction version that would lead to the Fifty Shades Trilogy.

Life Facts

  • Erika was born on March 7, 1963.
  • Erika is married to Niall Leonard, and they have two children.
  • She studied history at the University of Kent in South East England.
  • She has been awarded many times for her humanitarian efforts.

Interesting Facts

Famous Books by E. L. James

Fifty Shades of Grey’ is Erika’s most successful novel. She first wrote fan fiction of ‘Twilight’ and decided to rip off some characters from the story and put them into ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’ The novel tells the story of Anastasia Steele, a naive girl who meets Christian Grey, an eccentric billionaire. Ana’s life changes when she realizes that Christian wants her to be his submissive in a dominant-BDSM style of sex. Reluctant to agree to his request, Ana decides to collect Christian’s drafted contract. However, Christian breaks his routine by having sex with Ana before she signs the contract. Soon, Ana falls in love with Christian, and on letting him know, he tells her of his unwillingness to have a relationship with her. In a final moment of trying to save her relationship with him, she tells him to go all out on her; this leads to a painful whipping session and Ana leaving.

‘Masters of the Universe’ is E. L. James’s first story written after reading and getting addicted to ‘Twilight’ by Stephenie Meyer. The novel tells the story of a young girl, Bella Swan, who gets drafted to interview Edward Cullen, a cryptic multi-millionaire CEO. On meeting Edward, Bella’s life changes as she gets sucked into a world of passion and desire.

Fifty Shades Darker’ is the second novel in the Fifty Shades Trilogy. The story picks up from where the previous stops. After leaving Christian, Ana focuses on something new; her career. With her new job at the Seattle Independent Publishing House, she tries to forget the past. However, Ana continuously reminisces about her time with Christian. When Christian proposes a different arrangement to their relationship, she returns to him. Ana discovers more secrets about Christian’s dark past and the women he had been with before.

Fifty Shades Freed is the third novel in the trilogy. The story picks up from the previous one after Ana accepts Christian’s marriage proposal. Now a newly wedded wife to a billionaire, Ana finds herself struggling to fit into the life of being the wife of a billionaire. Tragedy strikes for Ana as her stepfather, Ray, get involved in an accident that leaves him in a coma, but he recovers. Ana soon discovers she is pregnant; this causes a fight with Christian, who refuses to accept the pregnancy. A second tragedy occurs as Jack Hyde, Ana’s former boss, kidnaps Mia Grey, Christian’s sister. He calls her, requesting some money, and after she hands it over to him, he hits her hard. She passes out but survives and later gives birth.


Erika Leonard was born to Alexandra Leonard in Willesden, Middlesex. Her father was a cameraman for the BBC, and she grew up in Buckinghamshire. Erika went to Pipers Corner School for her early education and Wycombe High School for her high school. After high school, she went to the University of Kent to study history. After completing her university education, she got a job at the National Film and Television School as a studio manager’s assistant. She met and fell in love with Niall Leonard, a novelist and screenwriter. They got married in 1987.

Literary Career

In 2008, Erika watched ‘Twilight’ and became addicted to the novel. Reading them constantly, she decided to write a fan-fiction continuation for the story; this led to the creation of her first novel, ‘Masters of the Universe.’ After publishing the book, she began to write ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ and instead of making something new, she recycled all the characters from her first novel in the second.

On publication, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ became an instant hit as sales exceeded anything Erika imagined. It became the fastest-selling paperback in British history.

Literature by E. L. James

Explore literature by E. L. James below, created by the team at Book Analysis.