Stephen King (1947- ). Prolific United States author who is most known for his horror novels, which often involve an unremarkable middle-class family being submerged into increasingly horrifying circumstances. King also produces more typically "literary" work, as can be seen in the novellas "The Body" and "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" (later adapted as the movies Stand by Me and The Shawshank Redemption, respectively), as well as in The Green Mile. King evinces a thorough knowledge of the horror genre, as shown in his nonfiction book Danse Macabre, which chronicles several decades of notable works in both literature and cinema.
Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine to Donald and Ruth Pillsbury King. When Stephen was very young, his father left the family and Ruth raised Stephen and his older brother David herself, sometimes under great financial strain.
Stephen King has been writing since an early age. When in school, he wrote stories (plagiarized from what he'd been reading lately) and sold to his friends. This was not popular among his teachers, and he was forced to return his profits when he was discovered.
The stories were copied using a mimeo machine that his brother David used to copy his magazine called "Dave's Rag" that he published himself. "Dave's Rag" was about local events, and Stephen would often contribute. At the age of about thirteen, Stephen discovered a box of his father's old books at his aunt's house, mainly horror and science fiction. He was immediately hooked.
From 1966 to 1970, King studied English at the University of Maine at Orono. Here, King wrote a column in the school magazine called "King's Garbage Truck". At the university he also first met Tabitha Spruce to whom he was married in 1971. To afford his studies, King took odd jobs on the side. One of them was at an industrial laundry, giving him material for the short story "The Mangler". This period in his life shows through in the second part of Hearts in Atlantis.
After finishing his university studies with a B.S. in English, King took a job as an English teacher at Hampden Academy in Hampden, Maine. He lived with Tabitha and at least one child in a trailer. Making ends meet was sometimes difficult, and the money that came from short stories, published mainly in men's magazines, was very useful. King also developed a drinking problem.
During this period, he began a number of novels. One of them told the story of a young girl with psychic powers. Frustrated with it, he threw it into the trash. Later, he discovered that Tabitha has rescued it, and encouraged him to finish it as Carrie. He sent it to a friend at Doubleday and more or less forgot about it. Some time later, he received an offer to buy it for $2,500 (not a large sum for a novel, even at that time). Years later, the paperback rights sold for $400,000.
King fans will note that the relative wealth of King's characters has risen through the decades, but not as precipitously as King's wealth itself: his earliest works (Carrie, The Shining, as well as much of the work in Night Shift) dealt with working-class families struggling from paycheck to paycheck in minimum-wage jobs; his late-80s work involved middle-class people like teachers and authors; his late 90s work, airplane pilots and others who can frequently afford a second house. Regardless, his work has remained immensely popular.
Stephen King has also written many books under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. King staged a mock funeral for Bachman after the pseudonym was made public, which in turn inspired the book The Dark Half, in which a novelist stages the burial of his horror author pseudonym after having a "serious" novel published, only to find that his alter ego does not want to leave quite so easily. Stephen King lives in Bangor, Maine with his wife Tabitha King, who is also a novelist. Their three children, Naomi Rachel, Joe Hill, and Owen Phillip, are now grown and living on their own.
- 1974 Carrie
- 1975 'Salem's Lot
- 1977 The Shining
- 1978 Night Shift (stories)
- 1978 The Stand
- 1979 The Dead Zone
- 1980 Firestarter
- 1981 Cujo
- 1981 Danse Macabre (nonfiction about horror)
- 1982 Creepshow (comic book, illustrated by Berni Wrightson)
- 1982 The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger
- 1982 Different Seasons (stories)
- 1983 Christine
- 1983 Cycle of the Werewolf (illustrated by Berni Wrightson)
- 1983 Pet Sematary
- 1984 The Eyes of the Dragon
- 1984 The Talisman (written with Peter Straub)
- 1985 Skeleton Crew (stories)
- 1986 It
- 1987 Misery
- 1987 The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three
- 1988 The Tommyknockers
- 1988 Nightmares in the Sky (gargoyle photo book with text by King; photos by f-stop fitzgerald)
- 1989 The Dark Half
- 1989 Dolan's Cadillac (limited edition)
- 1989 My Pretty Pony (limited edition)
- 1990 The Stand: The Complete & Uncut Edition
- 1990 Four Past Midnight (stories)
- 1991 Needful Things
- 1991 The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands
- 1992 Gerald's Game
- 1993 Dolores Claiborne
- 1993 Nightmares & Dreamscapes (stories)
- 1994 Insomnia
- 1995 Rose Madder
- 1995 Umney's Last Case
- 1996 The Green Mile (originally published as a monthly serial consisting of six parts: The Two Dead Girls, The Mouse on the Mile, Coffey's Hands, The Bad Death of Eduard Delacroix, Night Journey, and Coffey on the Mile)
- 1996 Desperation
- 1997 Six Stories (stories)
- 1997 The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass
- 1998 Bag of Bones
- 1999 Storm of the Century
- 1999 The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
- 1999 The New Lieutenant's Rap (limited edition)
- 1999 Hearts in Atlantis
- 1999 Blood and Smoke (audio book)
- 2000 Riding the Bullet (electronically published novella)
- 2000 The Plant (electronically published serial novel)
- 2000 Secret Windows
- 2000 On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft (nonfiction and autobiography)
- 2001 Dreamcatcher
- 2001 Black House (sequel to The Talisman; written with Peter Straub)
- 2002 /From a Buick 8 (stories)
- 2003? The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla
Other related pages
King optioned his films to student filmmakers for one dollar; yet, disgusted with the treatment most of his work had gotten in film, in 1986 he decided to direct Maximum Overdrive himself, using a screenplay he had written based on his short story "Trucks." The experience seems to have sated his desire to direct.
- Stephen King's Official Web Site
- Stephen & Tabitha King Foundation
- Lilja's Library
- Stephen King FAQ
- The Uncollected Stephen King
- Stephen King News
- List of King short stories, with publication information