Richest CelebritiesAuthors
Net Worth:
$150 Million
Date of Birth:
Mar 7, 1963 (60 years old)
Place of Birth:
Film Producer, Author, Novelist
💰 Compare E.L. James' Net Worth
Table of ContentsExpand
  1. Early Life
  2. Career
  3. Personal Life

What is E.L. James' Net Worth?

E.L. James, also known as Erika Leonard, is a British author who has a net worth of $150 million. E.L. James is best known for being the author behind the smash hit "Fifty Shades" books series which have sold tens of millions of copies and were turned into several feature films.

Early Life

Erika Leonard (née Mitchell), best known by her pen name E. L. James, was born in Willesden, England, on March 7, 1963. Her father is Scottish and her mother is Chilean. She was raised in Buckinghamshire, and was educated at Wycombe High School. She then continued her education by studying history at the University of Kent in South East England.


Following her graduation from history, James got a job as a studio manager's assistant at the National Film and Television School. Originally, her writing started out as fan fiction in response to the "Twilight" vampire novel series by Stephenie Meyer. Her infatuation with the series started in 2008, when he saw the movie "Twilight", which was an adaptation of Meyer's novel of the same name. Subsequently, she dove headfirst into the novels and read the entire series several times over the course of just a few days. She was then inspired by the novels to try writing her own fiction for the first time in her life.

Her original intention was to write what would basically be a sequel to the "Twilight" books. Between January and August 2009, James churned out not one, but two whole books. She was further inspired to actually publish her writing after discovering the world of fan fiction, and did so under the pen name "Snowqueens Icedragon". Her next writing project, which she began writing in August 2009, were what would eventually morph into the "Fifty Shades" books. Her original writing was quite controversial in the fan fiction community, with other authors complaining about the amount of sex featured in her stories. As a result, she ended up removing the posts. It is this explicit nature and depiction of the BDSM lifetstyle though that had helped the "Fifty Shades" series become so popular.

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Her first officially published novel, "Fifty Shades of Grey", was released in 2011. It was quickly followed by "Fifty Shades Darker" (2012), "Fifty Shades Freed" (2012), "Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian" (2015), and "Darker: Fifty Shades Darker as Told by Christian" (2017). She has also published the romance novel "The Mister" (2019), which is unrelated to the "Fifty Shades" series. As of December 2018, James's books have sold 125 million copies worldwide. Regarding the "Fifty Shades" series, James has said that they are "[her] midlife crisis, writ large."

As the popularity of the "Fifty Shades" books grew, Universal Pictures and Focus Features ended up optioning the books for film adaptation. Subsequently, the films "Fifty Shades of Grey" (2015), "Fifty Shades Darker" (2017), and "Fifty Shades Freed" (2018), starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, have been released. James has served as a producer on all three films.

In 2013 alone, James earned just over $50 million from the success of her books and sale of movie rights, putting her on the Forbes list of highest-earning authors. In 2014, she earned $12 million from movie and book royalties. In 2012, James won National Book Awards for Popular Fiction Book of the Year and Book of the Year. She has also been named to Time magazine's list "The 100 Most Influential People in the World", and as Publishers Weekly's "Publishing Person of the Year".

Personal Life

James married screenwriter Niall Leonard in 1987. They have two sons together, and the family live in London. She has joined ranks with other British celebrities such as the actors Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch, and television presenter Rachel Riley, to raise funds for the charity Thomas Coram Foundation for Children by designing and signing her own card, which was auctioned off on eBay in 2014.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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