In Twilight, Edward meets Bella Swan, a human girl whose thoughts he is unable to read, and whose blood smells overwhelmingly sweet to him. He fights a growing attraction to her, but after saving her life on several occasions, he succumbs and eventually falls in love with her. Edward admits to Bella that he is a vampire, and that although he retains the physical body of a seventeen-year-old, he was actually born on June 20, 1901. His adoptive father, Carlisle Cullen, transformed him into a vampire in 1918 to prevent him from dying in the Spanish influenza epidemic in Chicago, Illinois. Carlisle instilled in him a sense of morality uncommon in most vampires, and central to his way of life is the refusal to consider humans as food.
However, Edward constantly warns Bella against being with him, perceiving her life to be at risk if she continues to associate with him. Bella's love and confidence in Edward's restraint cause her to ignore his warnings, even after she becomes the vampire James' target. Unlike the Cullen family, who are "vegetarian" vampires (committed to only feeding on animals), James regularly feeds on humans and will not stop until he drinks Bella's blood. With his family's help, Edward is able to save Bella from James' predations, but how to assure Bella's continued safety remains an open question.
In New Moon, Edward's fears for Bella's safety intensify when she cuts her finger and is almost attacked by his brother Jasper. In an attempt to protect her, he convinces her that he no longer loves her, and moves away with his family, leaving Bella heartbroken. Edward finds it difficult to live without Bella, and becomes severely depressed at the prospect of an infinitely long and meaningless life. After he mistakenly learns from his sister Rosalie that Bella has committed suicide, Edward attempts to convince a group of Italian vampires, the Volturi, to kill him. Together with his sister Alice, Bella rushes to Italy and stops Edward before the Volturi can destroy him.
Edward explains why he left, and apologizes to Bella. She eventually forgives him entirely, and they continue with their relationship as though Edward had never left, with the exception that Bella has ties that cannot be broken with a werewolf named Jacob Black. Bella successfully seeks the support of Edward's family on turning her into a vampire. While Edward is furious at the prospect, he later agrees to change her himself if she agrees to marry him first
In Eclipse, Bella agrees to marry Edward on the condition he will make love to her while she is still human. Edward eventually relents and agrees, on the stipulation it will only occur after they are married. The plot is driven by the machinations of the vampire Victoria, who, seeking revenge for the death of her mate James, is hunting Bella and creating new vampires to build an army. A grudging truce is made between the Cullens and the Native-American werewolf pack led by Sam Uley and Jacob Black, a friend of Bella's who was there for her when Edward broke her heart. However, the truce is endangered when Bella realizes Jacob means more to her than she thought. Ultimately, Edward accepts that Bella cares for Jacob and successfully destroys Victoria, and Bella acknowledges that Edward is the most important person in her life. Edward tells Bella that they may attempt making love before they get married, as he realizes that she spends too much of her life trying to please other people. However, she refuses his offer and says that she will do everything the right way: marriage, making love, and then becoming a vampire
Breaking Dawn sees Edward and Bella marry. Bella becomes pregnant on their honeymoon, and the rapid growth of the half-human, half-vampire fetus swiftly impacts on Bella’s health. Edward tries to coerce her into having an abortion in order to save her own life. However, Bella feels a bond with her unborn child and insists on giving birth. Edward comes to feel love for the baby as well, after he hears its thoughts and learns that the baby loves Bella in return. Bella nearly dies giving birth in an emergency c-section, but Edward successfully delivers his daughter and then injects Bella's heart with his venom, healing her wounds by turning her into an immortal vampire. During Bella's painful transformation, Jacob imprints on their baby daughter, Renesmee.
After a vampire named Irina mistakes Renesmee for an immortal vampire child—a creation forbidden in the vampire world—the Volturi arrive to destroy the Cullens. Edward stands with Bella and their allies to convince the Volturi that Renesmee is not an immortal child and poses no threat to their existence. Once the Volturi leave, Edward and Bella feel free to live their lives in peace with their daughter
Edward is described in the book and by Bella as being charming, polite, determined, and very stubborn. He is very protective over Bella and puts her safety, humanity and welfare before anything else. He often over-analyzes situations and has a tendency to overreact, especially in situations where Bella's safety is at risk. He retains some outdated speech from his human life in the early 20th century. Edward sees himself as a monster, and after falling in love with Bella, he desperately wishes that he were human instead of a vampire.
Like all the vampires in the Twilight series, Edward is described by Bella as being impossibly beautiful. At various points in the series, she compares him to the mythical Greek god Adonis. His skin is "like marble"—very pale, ice cold, and sparkles in the sunlight. She describes his facial features as being perfect and angular—high cheekbones, strong jawline, a straight nose, and full lips. His hair, which is always messy, retains the unusual bronze shade that he inherited in his human life from his biological mother. His eyes, once green, are now described as topaz. His appearance changes if he goes long without feeding: his eyes darken, becoming almost black, and purple bruises appear beneath his eyes. Edward is 6'2", and has a slender but muscular body.
Vampiric traits, abilities and interests
Edward, like all vampires in the Twilight series, possesses superhuman strength, speed, endurance, and agility, and is described as being inhumanly beautiful. His scent and voice are enormously seductive to Bella, so much so that he occasionally sends her into a pliant daze entirely by accident. In Twilight, Edward explains that like other vampires, he does not need to breathe, though he chooses to do so out of habit and because it is helpful to smell his environment. He cannot digest regular food, and compares its attractiveness for him to the prospect of eating dirt for a regular person. As well, like other vampires, Edward is not able to sleep.
In addition to the traits he shares with his fellow vampires, Edward has certain abilities that are his alone. He is the fastest of the Cullens, able to outrun any of them. Perhaps as a result of a talent for empathy in his human life, Edward can also read the mind of anyone within a few miles of himself; Bella is the sole exception to this rule, which Meyer has stated is due to Bella having a very private mind. Edward also retains some of the traditional mindset and dated patterns of speech from his early-20th century human life.
Edward is musical, able to play the piano like a virtuoso. He enjoys a wide range of music, including classical, jazz, progressive metal, alternative rock, and punk rock, but dislikes country. He prefers indie rock to mainstream, and appreciates rock and classical music equally. He mentions in Twilight that he likes music from the fifties better than the sixties, dislikes the seventies, and says the eighties were "bearable".
A hobby of Edward's is collecting cars. He owns a Volvo S60 R and an Aston Martin V12 Vanquish as a "special occasion" car. He also gave his sister Alice a Porsche 911 Turbo as a gift in Eclipse. He bought a motorcycle to ride alongside Bella, but gave it to Jasper after he realized that riding motorcycles was a hobby she enjoyed sharing with Jacob.