IT is the 22nd book published by Stephen King. It was his 18th novel, and the 13th novel written under his own name. The book was released by Viking on September 15, 1986. It was one of the best selling novels in the United States of that year and is now considered a "modern masterpiece" of the horror genre in literature.
Since the book's publication King's story has been adapted several times for TV and film. In 1990, Tommy Lee Wallace directed a two-part miniseries starring Tim Curry. In 2017, Andy Muschietti directed the 2017 film adaptation, and its sequel, Chapter Two, in 2019.
IT tells the story of seven friends who face an evil shape shifting entity that feeds on the fears of children. One of IT’s favorite disguises is a circus clown called Pennywise, otherwise known as 'Bob Gray'.
The novel alternates between their childhood in 1958 and 27 years later in 1985.
King began writing the novel in 1981, having first conceived of the tale in 1978. Stephen King envisioned the IT character as a troll living in the sewer system, drawing on the idea of the troll under the bridge from the children's story "Three Billy Goats Gruff".
IT won the British Fantasy Award in 1987 and earned nominations for both the Locus Award and the World Fantasy Award.
1957 - 1958
"Welcome to Derry, Maine ...it’s a small city, a place as hauntingly familiar as your own hometown. Only in Derry the haunting is real. They were seven unhappy Pre-teens when they first stumbled upon the nearly unspeakable horror. Now they are grown-up men and women who have gone out into the big world to gain success and find happiness. But none of them can withstand the force that has called each of them back to Derry nearly three decades later, to face the nightmare without a true face and the evil without a true name."
In October of 1957, after a heavy rainstorm in Derry, Maine, 6 year old George Denbrough is chasing a paper boat down a gutter. The boat is washed down a storm drain. Peering into the drain, Georgie sees a clown in a silver suit who introduces himself as "Mr. Bob Gray" a.k.a. "Pennywise The Dancing Clown". Pennywise offers Georgie a balloon which he refuses, however, the clown cleverly entices Georgie to reach into the drain to retrieve his boat and then tears off his arm, leaving him to bleed to death in the gutter.
The following June, on the last day of school, Ben Hanscom, an overweight 11-year-old, is harassed by a group of bullies led by Henry Bowers, who tries to carve his name into Ben's stomach with a Buck knife. Ben escapes and hides in the Barrens, a large wooded area. There he meets Eddie Kaspbrak, a hypochondriac boy who believes he has asthma, and Bill Denbrough, Georgie’s older brother who has a stutter and rides a rusty bike named Silver. Ben shows them how to build a dam.
The 3 boys later befriend Richie Tozier, a jokester, Stan Uris, a Jewish boy, and Beverly Marsh, a lower-middle-class girl. They eventually refer to themselves as "The Losers Club". As the summer draws on they realize they have each had an encounter with shape-shifting entity that takes the form of whatever they fear the most. Ben as a mummy holding balloons, Eddie as a leper offering him a blowjob, Bill as Georgie's ghost, Richie as a werewolf, Stan as two drowned boys in the local standpipe and Beverly as blood spurting from her bathroom sink. The Losers Club refer to the creature as "IT" and link it with the recent child murders, including that of Eddie Corcoran who is killed by the monster in the form of the creature from the Black Lagoon.
Meanwhile, Henry Bowers admits to poisoning Mike Hanlon's dog and chases him into the Barrens. Mike tells the Losers that he was attacked by a large prehistoric sized bird and they realize through Mike's picture book that It has been around for centuries. The Losers Club suspects that It has control over Derry due to the number of unsolved disappearances and violent tragedies that go unnoticed or seem forgotten by the adults in the town.
During the incident where Henry and his gang chase Mike into the Barrens, a rock fight is initiated with The Losers Club. The bullies are defeated and an injured Henry swears revenge on The Losers Club before departing. After further encounters with It, the Losers construct a makeshift Native American smoke-hole which Richie and Mike use to hallucinate Its origins. In doing so they discover that It came to Derry millions of years before in an asteroid-like impact and that around every 27 years It awakens from a hibernation state underneath the town usually after some kind of terrible event or tragedy, to feed on and devour children for a period of 12 to 16 months.
In late July, Eddie ends up in the hospital after Henry breaks his arm. Spying on them, Beverly witnesses one of the bullies, Patrick Hockstetter, trying to empty a refrigerator which he had been using to trap and kill small animals, only to be killed by flying leeches. Later, The Losers Club discover a message written in Patrick's blood warning them that IT will kill them all if they continue trying to fight It. After Eddie is released from the hospital Ben makes 2 silver slugs out of a silver dollar, believing that silver will kill the monster. With Beverly found to be the best shot of the group, the responsibility of shooting the creature with Bill's slingshot falls to her.
The narrative changes to the point of view of It and says It existed originally in a void between our universe and others, in a dimension known as The Macroverse. It boasts to the reader that It is superior to anything on earth and confirms that It chooses to prey on children because they are easier to fool and frighten. It believes their fears are easier to interpret in a physical form, which It claims is akin to "salting the meat", as frightened flesh tastes better.
The kids return to the house on Neibolt Street and are attacked by a werewolf. Beverly shoots a slug from Bill's slingshot at the werewolf, injuring it and causing it to flee back to the sewers.
IT, now seeing Losers as a serious threat, manipulates Henry by sending him a package in the mail with a switchblade in it. He then uses it to murder his own alcoholic and abusive father who suffers from severe post-traumatic stress following his service in World War II.
Soon after, Henry and his friends Victor and Belch follow The Losers Club into the sewers with the intention of killing them. The three boys are attacked by Frankenstein's monster, decapitating Victor and mutilating Belch's face. Henry runs away and gets lost in the sewers. He eventually washes out into a nearby river, is caught by the police and blamed for all of the child murders. Meanwhile, Bill discovers The Ritual Of Chüd, an ancient ritual that allows him to enter The Macroverse to confront It. During the ritual Bill encounters Maturin, an ancient turtle and the creator of our universe, which it vomited up following a stomach-ache, who explains that It can only be defeated during a battle of wills.
Bill enters the monster's mind through The Ritual Of Chüd and discovers that It’s true form is a mass of destructive orange beams which IT refers to as "Deadlights". With the help of Maturin, Bill is able to defeat IT and send it back to sleep. After the battle, The Losers Club get lost in the sewers until Beverly has sex with all the boys to bring unity back to the group. This also is used as a metaphor to represent their leaving behind childhood and entering adulthood. The Losers Club then swear a blood oath to return to Derry should It ever return.
The Losers eventually all drift apart and go their separate ways in life. Their memories of that summer fade away.
In July 1984 at the annual Canal Days Festival, three teenagers attack a gay man named Adrian Mellon and throw him off a bridge. They are questioned by police when the victim's mutilated corpse is found. One of the teens claims he saw a clown in a silver suit drag Adrian Mellon under the bridge. Adrian's partner, Don Hagerty, says he seen clown bite Mellon under an arm, but the prosecutors convince him not to mention it during the trial.
When a string of child murders occurs in Derry once again, an adult Mike Hanlon, now the town's librarian and the only one of the Losers to still remain in Derry, calls up the six former members of the Losers Club and reminds them of their childhood promise to return should the killings ever start again.
Bill Denbrough is now a successful horror writer living in England with his actress wife, Audra. Beverly Marsh is a fashion designer in Chicago and is married to an abusive man named Tom Rogan. Eddie Kaspbrak has moved to New York City, where he runs a limousine rental company and has married a hysterical, codependent woman similar to his hypochondriac mother. Richie Tozier lives in Los Angeles and works as a disc jockey. Ben Hanscom is now thin and a successful architect, living in Nebraska. Stan Uris is a wealthy accountant residing in Atlanta, Georgia and is married to a teacher named Patty Blum.
Though the former members of the Losers Club have all repressed their memories of the summer they met and the monster itself, all but Stan agree to return to Derry. After Mike's phone call, Stan slits his wrists in the bathtub, writing "IT" on the wall in his own blood. Tom refuses to let Beverly go and tries to beat her, but she fights him off and flees. They return to Derry with only the dimmest notion of why they are doing so, only remembering something terrible and their promise to return no matter what.
The Losers meet for lunch at a local Chinese restaurant, where Mike reminds them that IT awakens once roughly every 25-27 years for 12–16 months at a time, feeding on children before going back to sleep. While they catch up on their lives the group returns to the strong bond that defined their previous friendship and love for each other. The group decides to kill IT once and for all. As they all open their fortune cookies at the end of their meal, each cookie becomes a vicious manifestation of It's power: one produces a glaring eye, another hatches into a large dying insect, Beverly's cookie sprays blood. Bill orders everyone to stop panicking and "dummy up" (their word for composing themselves in the face of fear) knowing that their server will not see what they do.
At Mike's suggestion, each person explores different parts of Derry to help restore their memories. While exploring, Eddie, Richie, Beverly, and Ben are faced with manifestations of IT (Eddie as Belch Huggins in leper form, Richie as a Paul Bunyan statue, Beverly as the witch from Hansel & Gretel and Ben as Dracula). Bill finds his childhood Schwinn, "Silver", and brings it to Mike's home where they spend a few hours tuning it up.
Three other people are also converging on the town: Audra, who is worried about Bill, Tom Rogan, who plans to punish Beverly, and a vengeful Henry Bowers, who has escaped from the nearby Juniper Hill Mental Asylum. Mike and Henry have a violent confrontation at the library. Both are injured and Henry escapes. Henry is driven to the hotel where the Losers are staying by the rotting corpse of Belch Huggins. He instructs Henry to kill the rest of them. Henry attacks Eddie, breaking his arm once again, but in the fight Henry is killed.
It then appears to Tom Rogan and orders him to capture Audra. Tom brings Audra to Its lair. Upon seeing Its true form, Audra becomes catatonic and Tom drops dead from shock. Bill, Ben, Beverly, Richie, and Eddie learn that Mike is near death and realize they are being forced into another confrontation with It. They descend into the sewers and use their strength as a group to "send energy" to a hospitalized Mike, who fights off a nurse possessed by It. They finally reach Its lair and find It has taken the form of a giant spider. Bill and Richie enter Its mind through the Ritual of Chüd, but they get lost in it. To distract It and bring Bill and Richie back, Eddie runs towards It and uses his aspirator to spray medicine in Its eye and down Its throat. Although he is successful, It bites off Eddie's arm, and Eddie quickly bleeds to death.
IT runs away to tend to its injuries, but Bill, Richie, and Ben chase after It and find that It has laid eggs. Ben stays behind to destroy the eggs, while Bill and Richie head toward their final confrontation with It. Bill fights his way inside Its body, locates Its heart and crushes it between his hands, killing It once and for all. The group meets up to head out of Its lair, and although they try to bring Audra and Eddie's bodies with them, they are forced to leave Eddie behind. They make it to the surface and realize that the scars on their hands from when they were children have disappeared, indicating that their ordeal is finally over forever.
At the same time, the worst storm in Maine's history sweeps through Derry, and the downtown area collapses. Mike concludes that Derry is finally dying. The Losers plan to return home and gradually begin to forget about It, Derry and each other. Mike's memories also begin to fade, as well as many of the records he had written down previously, much to his relief, and he considers starting a new life elsewhere. Ben and Beverly realize their love for one another and become a couple, leaving Derry together. Richie returns to California. Bill is the last to leave Derry. Before he goes, he takes Audra, still catatonic, for a fast ride on Silver, which magically awakens her from her catatonia from the power of belief.
In the final paragraphs, the line begins to blur between the story we have been told, the story Bill is dreaming, and the story Bill tells us he will write. King ends his mammoth novel with one final thought: that the act of Remembering as a Dreamer and the act of Creating as a Storyteller are the same, because although Bill may never fully remember the story behind his dreams, he will write the truth in his fiction.
"Or so Bill Denbrough sometimes thinks on those early mornings after dreaming, when he almost remembers his childhood, and the friends with whom he shared it."
Bill Denbrough: Also known as "Big Bill." He is the leader of the Losers Club and he has a severe stutter. His little brother George was murdered by Pennywise. He marries an actress named Audra Phillips.
Ben Hanscom aka Haystack, after the professional wrestler Haystack Calhoun. Henry Bowers tried to carve his name into Ben's stomach. Ben has a crush on Beverly. He grows up to become a very successful architect.
Beverly Marsh: The only female in the group, Beverly is a red-headed girl from the poorest part of Derry. She becomes a successful fashion designer and marries Tom Rogan.
Richie Tozier is also called Trashmouth because his wise cracks and insults tend to get him in trouble. He grows up and become the biggest disc jockey in L.A.
Eddie Kaspbrak the shortest of the group who believes he has asthma and has an incredibly overbearingly protective mother. He grows up and marries a woman named Myra who is incredibly resembling his mother's physicality and other intentions.
Mike Hanlon: Mike is the only black kid in Derry and is the last to join the Loser's club, making a total of lucky 7. He is the only one of to stay in Derry and becomes the town's head librarian. He calls the others when the killings begin again in 1985. Derry's history is explained throughout the novel in journal he keeps.
Stan Uris is the least willing to accept that It actually exists. His hobby is bird watching. He becomes a partner in a large Atlanta-based accounting firm, and it is hinted that he is the only member of the Losers (aside from Mike) to possess any memory of what happened in 1958. He commits suicide after getting a phone call from Mike Hanlon.
It/Pennywise the Dancing Clown, referred to as It by the Loser's Club, is the villain and primary antagonist. It is a shape-shifting monster that appears to Its victims as whatever they fear the absolute most, though It often uses the shape of a clown called Pennywise. It sustains itself by sleeping and waking in a cycle of approximately 27 years. I claims to be eternal, and believes itself to be invincible but Bill Denbrough crushes Its heart in his bare hands.
George Denbrough: George is Bill's younger brother. He is killed when a circus clown in the sewer drain rips off his arm. George's death is the first in a spree of murders that lasts from 1957-1958.
Henry Bowers: Henry is the town bully and secondary antagonist. He's an enemy of the loser's club and he becomes increasingly violent throughout the story as his sanity deteriorates.
Audra Phillips: Audra is Bill Denbrough's wife. She's is a well known actress. She looks like Beverly Marsh and later in the story she's kidnapped by Tom Rogan.
Tom Rogan: Tom is the abusive husband of Beverly Marsh. Later in the story he kidnaps Audra Phillips. Upon seeing It's true form, Tom drops dead from shock.
Victor Criss is one of the three bullies that rival the Loser's Club.
Belch Huggins is one of the three bullies that rival the Loser's Club.
Patrick Hockstetter sometimes hangs out with Henry Bowers. He keeps a pencil box full of dead flies and shows it to other students. He tortures small animals and keeps them in a refrigerator at the town dump.
Peter Gordon is a minor character who associates with Henry Bowers although it's suggested Henry stopped hanging out with him after he was the first one to run away from the rock fight.
Steve "Moose" Sadler is a minor character. He is sometimes seen hanging out with Henry Bowers. He's borderline retarded. His biggest part in the novel is the rock fight against the Loser's Club. His father works on the Hanlon farm.
Will Hanlon is Mike Hanlon's father. Mike often reminisces about his father and recounts his stories in a journal. He died of cancer in 1962.
Alvin Marsh is Beverly Marsh's father. He's over protective and often physically abusive. He's a custodian at Derry Home Hospital (at the school in the 1991 mini series).
Publishers Weekly listed It as the best-selling book in America in 1986.
The story was adapted into a film series in 1990. It is a four-hour long miniseries that was praised for Part 1, and the acting of the young Losers and Tim Curry as Pennywise but was criticized for Part 2's melodrama and poor special effects at the finale.
A two-film feature-length motion picture adaptation was made by Andrés Muschietti, with the first film released in theaters September 8, 2017. Its sequel was released September 6, 2019, known as 'IT Chapter Two'.
There is two audio-book versions of IT. One is read by Chuck Benson and another version is read by Steven Weber. Weber also played the part of Jack Torrance in the TV miniseries version of The Shining.
- It is very similar to the Netflix series Stranger Things. It is confirmed in the book Stranger Things: Worlds Turned Upside Down that The Duffer Brothers took inspiration from 'IT', along with the books Firestarter, The Dead Zone, Carrie, The Shining and The Body.
|Novel • Miniseries • Chapter One • Chapter Two|
|Bill Denbrough • Mike Hanlon • Ben Hanscom • Eddie Kaspbrak • Beverly Marsh • Richie Tozier • Stan Uris|
|Pennywise • Henry Bowers|
|Georgie Denbrough • Audra Phillips • Tom Rogan • Alvin Marsh|