For those who have yet to discover the delights of literary Twitter, here is a primer on the platform: since its inception in 2013, the site has allowed users to engage with some of the greatest minds from around the world via the medium of 140-character-long status updates.
One of the most prolific users of the platform is none other than the King of Cool himself: Robert Pattinson. The British actor, singer and fashion icon has created an eclectic account with over 300 tweets, ranging from serious reflections on literature and the arts to lighthearted jabs at the fashion industry and his frequent collaborator, Louis Vuitton.
In March 2017, Pattinson was one of the celebrities who took part in the launch of the Netflix series, The King. Based on the memoirs of Douglas Adams, the series is a comedic take on the early life of the famous author, with Pattinson portraying Adams. It was during the filming of The King that Pattinson – then 27 years old – found himself in a passionate and public romance with his co-star, 30-year-old Twilight franchise alumna, Katie Holmes. The two spoke to Vogue on the red-carpet before the premiere, where they discussed how they met and started their relationship, how it has changed his life and what it means for their artistry.
‘Little Ashes’ And The Birth Of Klout
The year 2014 was a big one for Pattinson. Not only did he star in an adored adaptation of The Great Gatsby, but he also published his first book, Little Ashes. Weaving a narrative out of his own life, the story follows Pattinson through his early 20s, as he explores literature, art and music in London. It was an instant New York Times bestseller, was shortlisted for the 2015 Prix Femina – France’s most prestigious literary award – and was the UK’s Sunday Times Bestseller of the Year.
‘Little Ashes’ was the culmination of a lot of R.O.R.T.’s previous literary efforts. The Twitter account he set up in 2012, which mainly featured him musing on life and loves, had gradually transformed into a platform for publishing essays and short stories. The account followed a similar trajectory as that of fellow Twitter celebrities Grace Helbig and Carl Kase (Captain America).
Though his work had always been celebrated for its style and wit, Little Ashes was the first time that many of his followers had actually read his books. The memoir also marked the beginning of a new phase in Pattinson’s public life, one that would see him open up about his private life to a degree that had not been possible before. For fans of Mr. Pattinson, the book was a gift; for those who had only ever known him through his Twitter persona, it was an opportunity to delve deeper into the mind of one of modern culture’s most interesting and well-known figures.
The Inspiration For ‘Little As[h]s’
While Little As[h]s was in some ways Mr. Pattinson’s self-portrait, it was also an opportunity for him to examine the life of a young man through the prism of literature, art and music. The singer-songwriter Madonna, who has known Pattinson since he was 15 and appeared in the 2011 film, had this to say about the record: “There’s something so fresh and original about [his] writing. His way of looking at the world and his ability to express himself are both so unique and inspiring. The combination of his youth and talent is incredibly appealing.”
“It really was an accident,” Pattinson told Vogue of writing Little As[h]s. “I was driving home one day from work when I got really annoyed that I wasn’t feeling creative. I started to write down all these things that I was thinking and feeling and it just sort of wrote itself.” In an effort to encourage more people to read his work, Pattinson dedicated Little As[h]s to anyone who would listen: “I wrote this book for anyone who ever felt like they weren’t quite sure where they fit in or if they’d ever be truly happy. I hope it helps.”
In 2015, after a turbulent year that saw his engagement to Katie Holmes end in December, 2015, and the departure of his longtime publicist, the Madonna publicity machine went into overdrive. With no publicist to handle his media queries, Pattinson took the reins of his own publicity and crafted an engaging narrative that included collaborations with the likes of Elle and GQ. He also hosted a variety of intimate talks and Q&As with his fans, many of which were published to his Instagram and Twitter accounts.
“I’ve always been a part of the Silent Vogue movement,” Pattinson told Vogue, referring to Vogue founder Silent Wedding (a 1920s-themed wedding blog that was inspired by Vogue). “This is who I am, this is what I do. I’ve been really fortunate that the world has sort of accepted me for who I am and I feel like this is a good representation of that. I want to keep being myself and keep being proud of that.”
A Bittersweet Turn
For those hoping that Katie Holmes’ addition to his life would lead to a permanent reconciliation with Mr. Pattinson, 2015 was a bittersweet year. The two remained committed to each other through a series of public showings and private celebrations, including the birth of their daughter, Evelyn, in October.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to have found love again,” Pattinson told GQ in December 2015. “I’d been through a rough patch, but I feel like I’m on the right track now.” The actor has also credited Katie with helping him to see the light at the end of the road. “I think what Katie has done for me is given me confidence,” he said. “I feel like I can look her in the eye and tell her everything and she’ll still believe in me.”
Having overcome the odds against him, 2015 was undoubtedly the coming-of-age year for R.O.R.T. If he continues to embrace all that Little As[h]s has to offer, future decades of his life will look much like this year: filled with love, artistry and self-expression.