Extravagantly romantic author is the only author to remain on the most-borrowed list over three decades
The novelist's books were borrowed just over 900,000 times from libraries last year, according to the latest library league table from Public Lending Right, making her the UK's fourth most-borrowed adult writer and the only author to retain a place in every top 10 most-borrowed authors list over the last 30 years. Back in 1983, when PLR records began, Steel sat in the charts in eighth position. Then, her most-borrowed cohorts included Catherine Cookson, Herriot and Cartland – a very different line-up to today's top library authors, who are nearly exclusively American thriller writers such as James Patterson, Harlan Coben and Michael Connelly.
Steel's publisher Catherine Cobain at Transworld put her enduring popularity – her books have been borrowed more than 42m times since 1999, a period over which she has sold an estimated 11m books – down to how she writes "very feelingly and honestly about the kind of issues real women face: finding love, taking care of a family and keeping them together against the odds, pursuing a dream or a career". Steel is also prolific, with 80 novels to her name to date.
For the sixth year running, Patterson remains the UK's most borrowed author, with his many novels borrowed over 2.4m times last year. He is joined in the most-borrowed author list by six children's writers – Daisy Meadows, the brand behind the Rainbow Magic series, Donaldson, Francesca Simon, author of the Horrid Henry series, Jacqueline Wilson, Kipper creator Mick Inkpen and the Beast Quest series' Adam Blade.
Roald Dahl sneaks into the author list in 14th position, and is the most borrowed classic author, ahead of Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer. The most borrowed classic title was JD Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, beating To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee to the top spot, possibly following heightened attention to the author after his death in 2010.
Click here for the full breakdown of UK library loans