Stephen Edwin King (born September 21, 1947) is an American author best known for his enormously popular horror novels. King was the 2003 recipient of The National Book Foundation's Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
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. He has also written stories outside the horror genre, including the novella collection Different Seasons, The Green Mile, The Eyes of the Dragon, The Stand, Hearts in Atlantis and his magnum opus The Dark Tower series. In the past, Stephen King has written under the pen names Richard Bachman and (once) John Swithen.
He frequently makes a cameo appearances in film adaptations of his novels.
Stephen Edwin King was born in Portland, Maine, on September 21, 1947. His father, Donald Edwin King, was a merchant seaman who was born with the surname Pollock, but changed it to King as an adult. King's mother was Nellie Ruth King (née Pillsbury). His parents were married in Scarborough, Maine, on July 23, 1939. Shortly afterwards, they lived with Donald's family in Chicago, Illinois before moving to Croton-on-Hudson, New York. King's parents returned to Maine towards the end of World War II, living in a modest house in Scarborough. When King was two years old, his father left the family. His mother Nellie raised King and his adopted older brother David by herself, sometimes under great financial strain. The family moved to Ruth's home town of Durham, Maine but also spent brief periods in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Stratford, Connecticut.
As a child, King witnessed a gruesome accident - one of his friends was caught on a railroad and struck by a train. It has been suggested that this could have been the inspiration for King's dark, disturbing creations, though King himself dismisses the idea.
King attended Durham Elementary School and Lisbon Falls High School.
King has been writing since an early age. When in school, he wrote stories based on movies he had seen recently and sold them to his friends. This was not popular among his teachers, and he was forced to return his profits when this was discovered. The stories were copied using a mimeo machine that his brother David used to copy a newspaper, Dave's Rag, which he self-published. Dave's Rag was about local events, and King would often contribute. As a young boy, King was an avid reader of EC's horror comics, which provided the genesis for his love of horror. He loved reading Tales from the Crypt.
His first published story was "In a Half-World of Terror" (retitled from "I Was a Teen-Age Grave-robber"), published in a horror fanzine issued by Mike Garrett of Birmingham, Alabama.
From 1966 to 1971, King studied English at the University of Maine at Orono. At the university, he wrote a column titled "King's Garbage Truck" in the student newspaper, the Maine Campus. He also met Tabitha Spruce; they married in 1971. King took on odd jobs to pay for his studies, including one at an industrial laundry. He used the experience to write the short story The Mangler and the novella Roadwork (as Richard Bachman). The campus period in his life is readily evident in the second part of Hearts in Atlantis.
After finishing his university studies with a Bachelor of Arts in English and obtaining a certificate to teach high school, King taught English at Hampden Academy in Hampden, Maine. During this time, he and his family lived in a trailer. He wrote short stories (most were published in men's magazines) to help make ends meet. As told in the introduction in Carrie, if one of his kids got a cold, Tabitha would joke, "Come on, Steve, think of a monster." King also developed a drinking problem which stayed with him for over a decade.
During this period, King began a number of novels. One of his first ideas was of a young girl with psychic powers. However, he grew discouraged, and threw it into the trash. Tabitha later rescued it and encouraged him to finish it. After completing the novel, he titled it Carrie, sent it to Doubleday, and more or less forgot about it. Later, he received an offer to buy it with a $2,500 advance (not a large advance for a novel, even at that time). Shortly after, the value of Carrie was realized with the paperback rights being sold for $400,000 (with $200,000 of it going to the publisher). Soon following its release, his mother died of uterine cancer. His Aunt Emrine read the novel to her before she died.
In On Writing, King admits that at this time he was consistently drunk and that he was an alcoholic for well over a decade. He even admits that he was intoxicated while delivering the eulogy at his mother’s funeral. "I think I did a pretty good job, considering how drunk I was at the time." (On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft) He states that he had based the alcoholic father in The Shining on himself, though he did not admit it (even to himself) for several years.
Shortly after the publication of The Tommyknockers, King's family and friends finally intervened, dumping his trash on the rug in front of him to show him the evidence of his own addictions: beer cans, cigarette butts, Xanax, Valium, NyQuil, dextromethorphan (cough medicine), and marijuana. As King related in his memoir, he sought help and quit all forms of drugs and alcohol in the late 1980s, and has remained sober since.
King spends winter seasons in an oceanfront mansion located off the Gulf of Mexico in Sarasota, Florida. Their three children, Naomi King, Joseph King (who appeared in the film Creepshow), and Owen King, are grown and living on their own.
Both Owen and Joseph are writers; Owen's first collection of stories, We're All in This Together: A Novella and Stories was published in 2005. The first collection of stories by Joe Hill (Joseph's pen name), 20th Century Ghosts, was published in 2005 by PS Publishing in a very limited edition, winning the Crawford Award for best new fantasy writer, together with the Bram Stoker Award and the British Fantasy Award for Best Fiction Collection. Tom Pabst has been hired to adapt Hill's upcoming novel, Heart-Shaped Box, for a 2007 Warner Bros release.
King's daughter Naomi is a Reverend in the Unitarian Universalist Church in Utica, New York, where she lives with her partner.
The following is a complete list of all the novels written and published by Stephen King.
Carrie • 'Salem's Lot • The Shining • The Stand • The Dead Zone • Firestarter • Cujo • Christine • Pet Sematary • Cycle of the Werewolf • The Talisman • It • The Eyes of the Dragon • Misery • The Tommyknockers • The Dark Half • Needful Things • Gerald's Game • Dolores Claiborne • Insomnia • Rose Madder • The Green Mile • Desperation • Bag of Bones • The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon • Dreamcatcher • Black House • From a Buick 8 • The Colorado Kid • Cell • Lisey's Story • Duma Key • Under the Dome • Blockade Billy • 11/22/63 • Joyland • Doctor Sleep • Mr. Mercedes • Revival • Sleeping Beauties • The Outsider • Elevation • The Institute • Later
The following is a list of upcoming works being written by Stephen King.
The Talisman 3 • Lisey's Story Tie-In Edition • Billy Summers
Short Story Collections
The following is a complete list of all the short story collections written and published by Stephen King.
Night Shift • Different Seasons • Skeleton Crew • Four Past Midnight • Nightmares and Dreamscapes • Six Stories • Everything's Eventual • Just After Sunset • Full Dark, No Stars • The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams • If It Bleeds
The following is a complete list of all the non-fiction books written and published by Stephen King.
- New American Library (Signet)
- Simon & Schuster
- Cemetery Dance
- Hard Case Crime