‘Twilight’ is the American adaptation of the bestselling vampire novel series by British author, Stephanie Meyer. The story follows the romance between high school students Bella, a gifted yet stubborn artist, and Edward, a mysterious yet charming aristocrat. The couple meet when Bella’s car breaks down and she is forced to stay at his mansion. While there, she discovers that he is a vampire and they fall in love. Their passionate affair ends tragically when Edward is forced to drink human blood to survive, sacrificing Bella’s life in the process. Years later, Edward returns to Bella as a changed man, begging for her forgiveness as he understands her pain. They eventually marry and have children together. Edward becomes a recluse, living an ordinary life with his family while avoiding humans as much as possible. The Twilight series has sold more than 400 million copies worldwide and spurred a cultural phenomenon, spawning parodies, comics, and even a circus! On the 20th anniversary of the publication of Twilight, we look back at the enduring appeal of Stephanie Meyer’s vampire romance, which stars Bella and Edward as modern day fair isle brides. 

The Epic Love Story Of Twilight

The Twilight saga began in 2002 when Stephanie Meyer released the first in a series of vampire novellas. Published under the pseudonym, ‘Sarah Dessen’, the books quickly became bestsellers, topping the New York Times Bestseller list in their first month of publication. The first Twilight novel was inspired by the real-life romance between author Meyer and actor Kurt Russell, which she detailed in her 2018 memoir, The Secret Life of Stephanie Meeks. The story follows the romance between a beautiful, independent woman and a rich playboy who becomes obsessed with her. The couple eventually marry and have a son, Abel, together. However, unbeknownst to Meyer, Russell had already started seeing another woman, actress Marisa Berenson, whom he would later divorce. Upon learning of his infidelity, Meyer went on to write Twilight, in an effort to ‘set the record straight’ about her husband’s behavior. After Twilight was published, it spent seven weeks on the NYT Bestseller list. Since then, the series has sold more than 400 million copies worldwide and spurred a cultural phenomenon, spawning parodies, comics, and even a circus!

The Books Are Special

When it comes to the Twilight series, the books are as special as the story they tell. Not only is Stephanie Meyer the author behind the globally successful series, but she also happens to be a published poet, playwright, and novelist. The first Twilight novel was originally intended for publication under Meyer’s real name. When the publisher discovered that she was already well-known as a pseudonym, they suggested that she use it for the book instead, as it would make it easier for readers to find. That decision ultimately led her to write six more Twilight books, including the most recent installment, Eclipse, which was released in April 2019. The novels often feature whimsical, artistic elements that mirror the character of their author. For example, the setting of Meyer’s 2012 novel, The Host, is a wedding bazaar in the style of Hockney. Additionally, the covers of the Twilight books prominently feature flowers, which are a symbol of both Stephanie Meyer’s and Kate Middleton’s favorite perfumes, Dior and Muguet. The former is a blend of magnolia, lemon, and fig; the latter is a combination of orange blossom, lemon, and fig blossom. In 2018, Harper Collins released an anthology of short stories featuring Twilight characters, aptly titled, Once You’ve Been Touched By Twilight, which was edited by Stephenie Meyer. The stories serve as a glimpse into the magical world of Bella and Edward, as well as a chance to revisit some of the novel’s most memorable characters and settings. 

The Saga Continues

Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight saga continues with Eclipse, the highly anticipated third book in the series. The novel’s cover was unveiled on June 12, 2019 and makes reference to the iconic poster art for the first Twilight film. Eclipse is the rarest of the Twilight books, in that it was published without an official UK edition. Eclipse follows closely on the footsteps of its predecessors: it is set in present day, yet continues the story of Bella and Edward as we learn more about the latter’s past misdeeds. The story picks up immediately after the cliffhanger ending of the previous installment, Planet Earth. Bella is now a freshman in college and decides to continue her studies at New York University. While at NYU, she discovers that Edward has secretly returned to Forks, seeking forgiveness from his family and especially Bella. The two eventually reconcile and remarry, promising to be more open about their relationship. They also have a daughter named Alice. As in the previous books, Eclipse features artistic influences, with the setting this time being a graphic design school in the style of Ren [sic] A Lawrence and Hockney. Also, the book’s main character, Bella, is a published architect and designer. Eclipse is due for release on October 23, 2019.

The Books Have Special Meanings

It’s not just about the books themselves: the Twilight series has a special significance in the world of art and design. First, the covers of the novels are often memorable works of art in their own right. Additionally, the series is filled with artistic influences, with some of its scenes and characters being designed with an eye towards graphic novels, comic books, or film noir. Finally, the narrative of the series is deeply personal to its author, leading to special meanings behind the story’s events, characters, and settings. During a Q&A with the Sunday Times, Stephanie Meyer was asked about Eclipse:

“‘Eclipse’ picks up where ‘Breaking Dawn’ left off, but in the opposite direction. We go in the opposite direction. I think it’s fair to say that when ‘Breaking Dawn’ came out, people were surprised by how much blood there was in it. So much blood! And here we have ‘Eclipse’, which is supposed to be a PG-13 movie. So it’s going to be a lot of blood, but not as much as in ‘Breaking Dawn’… It’s going to be a very different story. I think what happened was ‘Breaking Dawn’ was such a big movie that people expected a series of movies to follow. So they didn’t make a series of PG movies like we expected. They made ‘Eclipse’ and ‘Eclipse’ is going to be very different. It’s not even close to ‘Breaking Dawn’. People are surprised when they see how much violence there is in ‘Eclipse’ because it’s not like ‘Breaking Dawn’ at all. So I think that’s why ‘Eclipse’ is such a huge event in the Twilight saga. It doesn’t have the same impact as ‘Breaking Dawn’ because it’s not connected to the previous movies in the same way.”

The Series’ Influence

The books aren’t just special because of their author and the way they reflect her unique perspective on love and relationships. They also have a significant influence on those who read them. The Twilight series undoubtedly sparkles with imagination and creativity, making it a favorite among literature and design students. It is also often cited as an example of literature that became popular because of social media. According to a recent New York Times article, younger readers were particularly captivated by the series:

“Part of what has made  Twitter  popular among Gen Z is that it provided a place for them to follow their favorite accounts and creators. One of the most popular creators is @StephenieMeyer, whose Twitter account has over two million followers. She often posts movie or book trailer jokes and photos of her cats. Many teens have expressed an interest in becoming authors or designers because of the popularity of  Stephenie Meyer  in their generation.”

Whether you’re a fan of the Twilight saga or not, it’s hard to deny the books’ special place in popular culture. With the recent release of Eclipse, it will only be a matter of time before the Twilight phenomenon continues to capture the imagination of fans and the general public.