Fifty Shades of Grey is the first installment of the Fifty Shades trilogy, which recounts the story of Anastasia Steele, a college student who begins a BDSM relationship with the wealthy Christian Grey. Originally, Fifty Shades of Grey and the sequels were developed as a Twilight fan fiction titled Master of the Universe. The book featured characters drawn from Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series. After readers complained about the sexual themes in the story, James removed her story from the fan fiction website and published it on her own website. Later, she rewrote the story and renamed the characters.
Fifty Shades of Grey was published as an eBook and a print-on-demand paperback on May 2011. Thanks to word-of-mouth recommendation, the book became a phenomenon, selling millions of copies. The Fifty Shades trilogy was eventually purchased by Vintage Books and re-released in April 2012. By August 1, 2012, Amazon announced that they had sold more copies of Fifty Shades of Grey than the entire Harry Potter series, making E.L. James the best-selling author, replacing J.K. Rowling as the best-selling author. The series would go on to be translated into more than 52 languages, and be recognized in the UK as the fastest selling paperback of all time. In 2012, it was awarded the Book of the Year prize by the UK National Book of the Year. However, despite the strong commercial success and intense popular response from fans of the series, many writers and literary critics gave the novel scathing reviews. In additions to criticisms of the novel's literary merits, it was also criticized and sometimes censored for its explicit sexual content. On the other hand, the series also received criticism for misrepresenting BDSM relationships.
The film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey premiered on February 13, 2015, with Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan playing the roles of Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. The film was a huge blockbuster despite its negative reviews. The film adaptations of Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed were released in 2017 and 2018, respectively.