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Fifty Shades author EL James and Newry hubby bound up rich list with £75m fortune

By Kate Ferguson

Published 04/05/2015

Multi-millionaire author EL James and husband Niall Leonard
Multi-millionaire author EL James and husband Niall Leonard

Fifty Shades Of Grey author EL James and her Newry-born husband are sitting on a fortune after her racy novels saw her catapulted into the Sunday Times Rich List after amassing £75m.

James (52) is the fourth wealthiest author according to the newspaper, after her tales of a sadomasochistic love affair seduced millions of readers and spawned a Hollywood film, party games and a lingerie line.

She has toppled Jackie Collins as the queen of the 'bonk-buster', pushing Collins - who has a fortune of £65m - down into fifth place.

The Sunday Times released its Rich List of British Authors yesterday - showing that Harry Potter author JK Rowling remains in the top spot with £580m, more than the combined wealth of the six authors below her.

James, who lives with her husband Niall Leonard and their two sons in west London, could climb higher up the rich list in the future as the second and third films from her novels hit the big screen.

Despite only managing mixed reviews, the first film, which was directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson and starred Holywood's Jamie Dornan, was a box office hit and is the second highest grossing release of the year so far.

A 30-second teaser clip for the next instalment, Fifty Shades Darker, was released earlier this week, although the full film is not expected to be out until February 2017.

Individually, Niall Leonard could also see his earnings rise after he was signed up as a script writer on the second movie instalment. The Newry man has had a long career as a writer and spent 10 years working with the Hole In The Wall gang for every episode of Give My Head Peace on BBC Northern Ireland.

He has also worked on episodes of television hits such as Silent Witness, Hornblower, Holby City, Monarch Of The Glen, Wire In The Blood and Wild At Heart.

Before finding fame with Fifty Shades, James worked as a television executive while writing the erotic novels in her spare time.

Their runaway success has seen her land on a list alongside the likes of Barbara Taylor Bradford, who has sold more than 30 million books worldwide and is the second richest author with a £149m fortune. Lord Archer is third richest with £140m.


Niall Leonard was born in Newry but now lives in west London with his wife EL James and their two sons. He has had a long career as a scriptwriter and is best known in Northern Ireland as one of the writers on Give My Head Peace. He worked with the Hole In The Wall Gang on the BBC sitcom for 10 years. He has also written for episodes of television hits such as Ballykissangel, Silent Witness and Wild At Heart. The next stage of his career will see him work on the script of the second movie instalment of his wife's Fifty Shades trilogy.

Belfast Telegraph

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