#1 Several public libraries in America banned the racy romance trilogy from their shelves, claiming that it did not meet their selection criteria, despite demand from the general public. In Brazil, bookstores throughout Macaé were ordered to remove the series entirely from their shelves, or make sure the books were wrapped up in cellophane and positioned out of the reach of children.
#2 E.L. James’ real name is Erika Mitchell, but she is known in the literature world by her pen name. When James first wrote the series, she actually used the seductive pen name ‘Snowqueen’s Icedragon’, and her fanfiction book was initially based on her love for Twilight, before eventually being developed into Fifty Shades of Grey. She has described the trilogy as her “midlife crisis”.
#3 James was brought up in Buckinghamshire in England, and actually never visited Seattle or Portland where the book is set prior to writing. Instead, she used Google Street View as a way of visualising and researching the setting in her series! More recently, she embarked on a tour of the West Coast to actually see these places “in the flesh”.
#4 In 2012, E.L. James was listed as one of the ‘100 Most Influential People In The World’ in Time magazine. Time said that the reason she had made the list was due to her incredible transformation, stating that she had turned from a “mother of two who dabbled in saucy stories for the Web” to a “publishing phenomenon”, whose trilogy has “deeply stirred booksellers, Hollywood and, apparently, many, many mothers”.
#5 Oprah Winfrey is one of the biggest celebrity fans of the Fifty Shades novels. She once admitted: “…For the first time I can take some guilty pleasure and just read. But I’m thinking, stop with the story, get to the juicy part.” Sound familiar? Other fans include Victoria Beckham and Kim Kardashian. But it’s not just women who pick up the books; male enthusiasts include X Factor star Olly Murs, American presenter Ryan Seacrest and One Direction popstar Harry Styles. Murs (rather cheekily) once claimed: “I think it was based on me in some aspects of it.”
#6 The Fifty Shades books even inspired a new line of kids’ clothes, including baby grows with the slogans ‘9 months ago mummy read Fifty Shades of Grey’ and ‘All mummy wanted was a night with Mr Grey’. It has also given rise to a multitude of other products, too, including a beefburger in the US named ‘The 15 Shades of Bacon Burger’, as well as the ‘Fifty Shades of Gravy’ and ’Fifty Shades of Kale’ cookbooks.
#7 One hotel in the Lake District actually replaced copies of the Bible in the bedside drawers with Fifty Shades of Grey book. “I know that some are too shy to buy it themselves”, said the hotelier, so he thought it would be a “special treat” for guests to discover it in their room.
#8 There have been over 125 million copies of the book sold worldwide – that’s more than The Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. It’s also been translated into more than 50 different languages. According to Forbes, James raked in a staggering $95 million between 2012 and 2013 alone!
#9 There were many actors who reportedly nearly made the cut for the movie, including Ryan Gosling (who E.L. James once said was the original prototype for Christian), Garrett Hedlund, Robert Pattinson, Charlie Hunnam (who was offered the role and then pulled out after 20,000 signed a petition for a recast). Female stars rumoured to play Anastasia included Lucy Hale, Emma Watson and Chloe Bridges. In the end, the directors cast Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson. Whether fans of the book agreed with the final casting or not, the pair pulled in a record-breaking amount of money worldwide.
#10 After just a week, the trailer for the Fifty Shades of Grey movie became the most viewed trailer of 2014. The actual movie cleverly launched on Valentine’s weekend and was the highest-ever grossing opening for an 18-certificate film in the UK, making £161.6 million at the worldwide box office in its opening weekend – the 21st biggest opening of all time. With a budget of just £25 million, that’s some profit.