Northern Ireland news

`50 Shades of Grey' author EL James reveals her first son was born `during happiest year of her life' in Belfast

Fifty Shades of Grey author EL James

MEGA-selling `provocative' romance author EL James has revealed that her eldest son was born in Belfast, a city where she once lived and described as "fantastic".

Famously discreet about her private life, Ericka Leonard, who took her initials as part of her literary pseudonym, is best known for penning the erotic `Fifty Shades' trilogy.

She made this disclosure during the publicity tour for her latest book `The Mister', which sold 52,000 copies in its first week and with a big screen adaptation already mooted.

The film versions of her original trilogy featured Northern Ireland-born Jamie Dornan as title character Christian Grey.

"My eldest son was born in Belfast... I actually lived there for a wee while and it was fantastic. I loved Belfast," she told RTÉ radio's Ryan Tubridy.

James has never revealed the names of her two boys, referring them as `Major' and `Minor'.

However, she has spoken before about her love of Belfast saying in a newspaper interview that her time living in the city was the "happiest" of her life.

She is married to Newry native Niall Leonard and revealed the couple, who married in 1987, "enjoyed submitting to the laid-back life in Belfast" while he worked briefly for the BBC.

"In 1993, my wife Erika and I packed our bags, rented out our house in west London, and moved to Northern Ireland where I had been offered a 12-month contract as a script editor for the BBC," he has previously said in an interview.

"We stayed for a while with my parents in Newry, where I'm originally from, then moved to Belfast. We arrived at our two bedroom flat on Annadale Avenue, off the Ormeau Road, with only a saucepan and two mugs to our name.

"...I got my break writing episodes of Spender, the Jimmy Nail show. Erika was working as a television executive on a lot of high-powered stuff.

"It was a very stressful job and she would rarely get home before 8pm. We had been trying for a baby for ages. On the day I got the job offer in Belfast, she found out she was pregnant."

James worked for a production company in Belfast, allowing them to be "both home by 6pm and could have a conversation before dinner, which was the first time in 10 years we'd done that - London didn't allow the time".

"We'd drive to the seaside or go to the cinema. It was wonderful," Mr Leonard told The Times.

"Then the baby arrived, our first child, which was a whole adventure by itself.

"...Erika considers that year in Belfast the happiest of her life. It was such a laid-back, stress-free, homely time," he said.

The couple moved back to London at the end of his contract.

It would be 15 years before `Fifty Shades of Grey' would take the world by storm.

The combined novels have sold over 125 million copies worldwide and set a UK record as the fastest selling paperback of all time.

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