"If you've never shaked hoover's bag than you've never learned what 50 shades of grey really means." 50 Shades of Grey is a 2011 erotic romance novel by British author E. L. James. It's a trilogy and the second and third volumes, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, were published in 2012. The series has sold over 100 million copies worldwide and been translated into 52 languages and set the record as the fastest-selling paperback of all time. A movie has been announced on a Valentine's day 2015.