With Valentine’s Day coming up, there are two things I’m looking forward to: half-priced chocolates and the trailers for Fifty Shades Freed to finally end. By now, everyone all over the world has heard about this series, whether they’ve read it, seen the movies, or just saw it online somewhere. Either way, everyone knows about this BDSM-themed romance.
With its popularity, has anyone ever stopped and wondered “how exactly did this popular, erotic book series start out?” Probably not, but luckily for you, and unfortunately for me, I researched the internet to learn about Fifty Shades of Grey. From starting as just a piece of fan fiction about another popular book series and ending up as one of the most talked about books of the decade. I bring you, the History of: Fifty Shades of Grey.
It’s common knowledge that that Fifty Shades started out as Twilight fanfiction. In the early 2010s, author E.L. James finished reading the Twilight series and was inspired to write her own take on it. The first known draft of the story was published on Fanfiction.net, a website for writers who are fans of a particular movie, television series, game, or in James’ case, book, who write fictional stories about the characters in that particular fandom. She published her story under her username: Snowqueens Icedragon.
Image from everythingfiftyshadesofgrey
Because of the suggestive themes of the story and copyright issues, James was forced to remove it from the website. Steven Hechter, an employee for British magazine ‘Times Higher Education’ told LA Times that “copyright issues are at the core of fan fiction because using the characters and fictional worlds of commercial authors to create fan works is an arguable a violation of the law from the outset.” This drove her to not only create her own platform to host the story, but to pursue a career in writing. So, 50shades.com was born.
Image from Pinterest
Originally called ‘Master of the Universe’, the story followed a handsome, mysterious rich CEO, Edward Cullen, and a pretty but clumsy girl, Bella Swan. This story generated a huge following which eventually led James to rewrite it into the iconic story we know today. In 2011, the first book, Fifty Shades of Grey was self-published under The Writer’s Coffee Shop, a small former-writers community, in May 2011.
In March 2012, she “signed a seven-figure contract with Random House’s Vintage Books” according to Business Insider. Because of that, the book sold roughly 70 million copies worldwide, produced nearly 30,000 e-book downloads and was translated into 52 different languages. The film adaptation premiered on Feb. 13, 2015 and made $94 million on its opening weekend.
From fanfiction to a movie trilogy, the history of Fifty Shades of Grey is surprisingly inspiring. How one person can be inspired by something they love and create something equally successful, no matter the subject, is amazing. Whether you love it or hate it, this once Twilight fanfiction shows the world that even the most unlikely of projects can become successful, which to me, is oddly enlightening.
If you want to see mine and Matthew Yapp’s opinions on the second movie in the movie trilogy, Fifty Shades Darker, check out our video review of it below!
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