Edward was born on June 20, 1901 in Chicago, Illinois. Though he has mentioned that he doesn't remember it very well, he grew up in an old-fashioned family life style. Edward wanted to enlist in the army during World War One while he was growing up. That changed, however, when he and his parents became sick from the Spanish Influenza in 1918. His father, Edward Masen Sr., died in the first wave of the influenza. Before she died, Edward's mother, Elizabeth Masen, begged the doctor who was taking care of them, Dr. Carlisle Cullen, to do everything within his power to save her son. Elizabeth: "You must do everything in your power. What others cannot do, that is what you must do for my Edward." Carlisle acted on her wishes when Edward was near death himself. After Elizabeth died, Carlisle took Edward from the hospital, brought him to his house, and therefore changed him into a vampire.
Edward had a rebellious period at the beginning of his vampire life and left Carlisle and Esme in 1928. During his lone time, he used his mind reading ability to attack the worst people of society, thinking as long as he was serving justice, it would not matter that he was feeding on humans. A few years later, he regretted this decision and returned to Carlisle's way of life in which animal blood, rather than human, is their source of sustenance. Over the next 80 to 90 years, additional vampires were created by Carlisle as a last resort for a select few nearly dead, and left-for-dead individuals who then became part of the Cullen family, known to vampires as a coven. Esme, a distraught, grieving mother of a dead child, became Carlisle's mate and Edward's adoptive mother. Rosalie Hale, a would-be socialite left for dead by her fiancé, was originally intended as Edward's mate, but never became more to him than a sibling. Emmett Cullen became Edward's adoptive brother after Rosalie found him near death from a bear attack and fell in love with him. Already vampires, Jasper Hale and Alice Cullen sought out and found the Cullens and adopted themselves into the family after both escaping tragic pasts.