Dorothy Smith Daniels was born in Connecticut on July 1, 1915. She earned a diploma from Central Connecticut State College in New Britain, Connecticut. She married Norman A. Daniels, a writer, on October 7, 1937, and presumably died on December 3, 2001.
Daniels began her writing career in the early fifties while living in New York City by writing short stories. She became ill, discontinued writing, and moved to California in 1956. In 1961 she resumed her career with hard cover doctor-nurse stories. Paperback Library became interested in her books and purchased them. They sold so well that they contacted Daniels to do original doctor-nurse paperbacks.
Paperback Library then suggested that she try her hand at Gothics. Her husband, who had been writing detective and suspense stories for years, offered to guide her in the media. She switched to Gothics and wrote exclusively in that genre from that point on, with over one hundred forty novels in print.
Her first gothic novel, Shadow Glen, was published in 1965. From that year through 1975, Daniels had sales figures of over 10 million copies, with more than 150 titles in print. (...) Daniels achieves originality in a narrowly defined genre by paying close attention to detail and vividly recreating an era into which the reader can escape.
The depiction of women in Daniels' gothics is very traditional. Home and marriage are often the end result of the storyline. Generally written in the first person, the plots are predictable—the reader is aware that the heroine will ultimately survive and be far better off by the conclusion of the final chapter. It is this very predictability, however, that seemed to draw readers. Gothic devotees were searching for variations on established themes, and Daniels achieved this variation through careful and precise characterization.
Her novels uphold the traditions and attitudes of a solid middle-class experience where age and sex role expectations are clearly defined. The characters in the gothics pose no threat to the beliefs of the readers; Daniels receives popular acceptance because she treats the values of ordinary people with respect. Her insistence on happy endings reinforces the concept that good, by its very nature, must ultimately triumph over evil. (...)
Rather than debate the merits or shortcomings of escapist literature, it is more important to study Daniels for her insight into the American psyche.