Did fifty shade of grey start as fanfiction


Before Fifty Shades of Grey became a mainstream sensation and a blockbuster movie franchise, it started as fanfiction, a type of literature written by fans of a certain television program, movie, or book. It's a fascinating backstory that not many people are aware of, and it offers an interesting glimpse into the origins of the now-iconic novel.

The Origin of Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey, written by E.L. James, first gained popularity as a fanfiction titled "Master of the Universe" on, a website that allows users to post stories based on their favorite movies, shows, or books. James originally wrote the story under the pen name "Snowqueens Icedragon." She transformed the iconic characters from Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series - Bella Swan and Edward Cullen - into Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey. This shift toward an adult and erotic theme distinguished her story from the young adult genre of Twilight.

Did fifty shade of grey start as fanfiction

In her fanfiction, Bella, or Anastasia, is a college graduate while Edward, or Christian, is a billionaire with a penchant for BDSM. This drastic change of character dynamics and plot interests numerous Twilight fans and other readers leading to its immense popularity.

Transition from Fanfiction to Novel

Once "Master of the Universe" had accumulated a large enough following, James decided to rework and expand her fanfiction into an original trilogy. She renamed the characters and adjusted the storyline to distance the manuscript from its Twilight origins. The revamped work was self-published in 2011, available in digital and print on demand format.

The three books, Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed became viral hits and sold millions of copies worldwide. The novel series is described as a tale of erotic romance that explores the relationship between a recent college graduate, Anastasia Steele, and a young business magnate, Christian Grey.

Controversies and Criticisms

The novel series faced criticism for its origins as fanfiction and the thematic elements of BDSM. Some hardcore fans of Twilight felt that James had exploited Meyer's characters and the fanfiction community to gain personal profit. Additionally, professionals in the field of psychology and human sexuality criticized the book for its depiction of a BDSM relationship.

Despite criticism, E.L. James's transition from fanfiction author to professional novelist points to the increasing legitimation and monetization of fan-generated content. Furthermore, the transformed literature's success proved that fanfiction can have mass-market appeal, which prompted traditional publishers to take a closer look to the fanfiction community.

Impact on the Publishing Industry

The success of Fifty Shades of Grey signifies a shift in the publishing industry. It showed publishers that self-publishing platforms and fanfiction communities could be goldmines for new talent and content.

The potential commercial success of fanfiction has even led to the creation of platforms like Kindle Worlds, an Amazon service that allows fanfiction authors to publish their work for profit. However, it's important to note that transitioning from fanfiction to original work often requires significant reworking of characters and plotlines to avoid copyright infringement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is Fifty Shades of Grey originally a fanfiction of?
A: Fifty Shades of Grey was originally a Twilight fanfiction titled 'Master of the Universe'.
Q: Who wrote the original Fifty Shades of Grey fanfiction?
A: E.L. James initially wrote Fifty Shades of Grey as a fanfiction under the pseudonym Snowqueens Icedragon.
Q: What changes were made when Fifty Shades of Grey transitioned from a fanfiction to a novel series?
A: E.L. James made significant adjustments to her fanfiction when transitioning it into a novel series, including changing character names and reworking the storyline to distance it from Twilight.


James, E. L. (2011). Fifty Shades of Grey. Vintage Books.
Morrison, A. E. (2017). Fandom, Adaptation and Identity: Fifty Shades of Grey. Literature/Film Quarterly, 45 (3), 193-212.

Explore your companion in WeMate