Steel was born Danielle Fernandes Dominique Schuelein-Steel in New York City, the only child of Norma da Câmara Stone dos Reis and John Schulein-Steel. Her father was a German Jewish immigrant, a descendant of the founders of Löwenbräu beer. Her mother, born in Portugal, was the daughter of a diplomat. Steel was raised Catholic and had wanted to be a nun during her early years. She spent much of her childhood in France, where from an early age she was included in her parents' dinner parties, giving her an opportunity to observe the habits and lives of the wealthy and famous. Her parents divorced when she was eight, however, and she was raised primarily in New York City and Europe by her father, rarely seeing her mother.
Steel started writing stories as a child, and by her late teens had begun writing poetry. A graduate of the Lycée Français de New York, class of 1963, she studied literature design and fashion design, first at Parsons School of Design in 1963 and then at New York University from 1963–1967.
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Famous quotes containing the words years and/or early:
“The years when we are parenting teenagers are the high point, the crest when everything seems to be in bright colors and in ten-foot letters.”
—Jean Jacobs Speizer. Ourselves and Our Children, by Boston Womens Health Collective, ch. 4 (1978)
“Early education can only promise to help make the third and fourth and fifth years of life good ones. It cannot insure without fail that any tomorrow will be successful. Nothing fixes a child for life, no matter what happens next. But exciting, pleasing early experiences are seldom sloughed off. They go with the child, on into first grade, on into the childs long life ahead.”
—James L. Hymes, Jr. (20th century)