Published on February 14, 2013 | by Leanne Addison


Fifty shades forgotten?

A copy of 50 Shades of Grey.

Fifty Shades of Grey is the fastest selling paperback of all time. [Dilantha Dissanayake]

Fifty Shades of Grey is the fastest selling paperback of all time having sold 65 million copies in 37 countries. For those of you living in the dark ages, the novel explores the sexual practices of bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism.

It has very quickly become the first ‘acceptable’ erotic novel with people openly reading it on tubes and buses.

It has surprisingly inspired people to become more adventurous in their own sex lives with couples and strangers alike, however some have taken these acts a step too far.

A 31-year-old Swedish man is to stand trial for killing his girlfriend after a sado-masochistic sex game inspired by the book went seriously wrong.

The 28-year-old German woman in question, his willing ‘sex slave’, was hit 123 times with a wooden blackboard pointer as she was bound up with nylon tights and condoms. The man raised the alarm when she stopped breathing. She was treated for two days in intensive care before her life support machine was switched off.


Closer to home bondage devotee 43-year-old Steven Lock from Ipswich was cleared of assault after tying up his girlfriend and lashing her repeatedly with a rope. The couple had a contract that entitled him to whip her until she used the code word – which was ‘red’ – if she wished him to stop.

Fifty Shades of Grey is not a manual. It’s a work of fiction and this is a case which demonstrates things can go wrong.” Roger Thomson

The woman, who had ‘property of Steven Lock’ tattooed on her genitals, was left bruised and in tears after being hit 14 times. She said, “I knew I wasn’t going to like it but I’d agreed to it and had to follow through.”

Lock said he and the woman got the idea from Fifty Shades of Grey after meeting on the popular dating website

Lock’s lawyer, Roger Thomson, explained that “Fifty Shades of Grey is not a manual: it’s a work of fiction and this is a case which demonstrates things can go wrong.”

The book has inspired many fan sites on the web, such as – a fan site dedicated to the possibility of a film version of the novel. The site includes a fan forum in which members can discuss actors they want to see play the characters as well as news they find about the book being currently adapted into a blockbuster.

The website has posters and merchandise for sale and tips on Fifty Shades inspired fancy dress costumes.


In December Bloomberg Business Week reported that the sex-toy industry is estimated to grow by 15 per cent in 2013 thanks to the novel. The industry has struggled in recent years mainly because of free online porn but the book has prompted a surge of interest in adult products.

According to a survey by women’s magazine More! 72 per cent of young women in the UK now own a sex toy. Many sex shops now have displays dedicated to the trilogy that carry items used in the novels. Porn star James Deen told The Hollywood Gossip: “People, as we evolve, are becoming more sexually open and more socially acceptable of sex. What used to be shocking isn’t really shocking anymore.”

“People, as we evolve, are becoming more sexually open and more socially acceptable of sex. What used to be shocking isn’t really shocking anymore.” James Deen

Hairdresser Laura Partington, 26, is married with one child: “If you’ve been with your partner for a while then I’d recommend you read the book. It makes you realise you should put more effort into your relationship.”

But does the book give men unrealistic expectations of what to expect from their lovers?

Partington said, “Well it’s written for women and I think it’s every girl’s fantasy really. A plain girl meets a rich, protective man who changes her life. I think that’s what has touched a nerve with women rather than the sex scenes”

Missed opinions

The book’s author, EL James, has received criticism over the quality of the writing, although this has not stopped its runaway success.

Leslie Ntambwe, 21, a Media and Cultural studies at LCC commented: “I think the book is cheesy at times, I’ve read books similar that are better written but I think it is good that they have become so popular. It has given people a more open mind on sexual practices. I see middle-aged women on the Tube reading it all the time and it makes me laugh to think what page they might be reading.”

Kelly Marcel, the screenwriter in charge of translating the book onto the big screen agrees. When talking to Style magazine she insisted: “Fifty Shades is a modern love story. Regardless of what you may think of the writing, this is a love story, and that’s what I’m interested in.”

In 2012 it was hard to go anywhere without seeing a copy of the book or hearing someone talk about it. Whether Fifty Shades of Grey is boosting the economy via sex-toy sales or causing relationship problems this erotic sensation is not going away anytime soon.


  • Fifty Sheds of Grey was spawned from a popular Twitter account, and sold 41,000 copies in just two weeks. The parody book about garden sheds has been dubbed ‘erotica for the not-too-modern male.’
  • Fifty Shades of Grey Karaoke with Jimmy Fallon is a must see. Fallon makes his audience members sing passages from the book. Imagine middle-aged men singing: “He pulls my sweat pants down like whores drawers… I’m a hoe.”
  • @50ShadesOfShit is a Twitter account that is definitely not for the faint-hearted. The filthy tweets are a far cry from what EL James probably had in mind when writing her erotic love story.
  • Fifty Shades of Chav, written by mother-of-five Mel Dutton, is her own take on the Fifty Shades books and since has become an Internet hit. An example reads: “As he approached with those pasty white arms hanging out of his Gola vest, his smile told me it was benefit day and I knew my velour tracksuit would be hanging off the lamp shade tonight.”



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