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David Eddings
David Eddings portrait.jpg
Born David Carroll Eddings
(1931-07-07)July 7, 1931
Spokane, Washington
Died June 2, 2009(2009-06-02) (aged 77)
Carson City, Nevada
Occupation Novelist
Alma mater Reed College (BA)
University of Washington (MA)
Genre Fantasy
Notable works
  • The Belgariad
  • The Malloreon
  • The Elenium
  • The Tamuli
  • The Dreamers
Years active 1972–2006
Spouse Leigh Eddings (1962–2007)

David Carroll Eddings (July 7, 1931 – June 2, 2009) was an American fantasy writer. With his wife Leigh, he authored several best-selling epic fantasy novel series, including The Belgariad (1982–84), The Malloreon (1987–91), The Elenium (1989–91), The Tamuli (1992–94), and The Dreamers (2003–06).

Biography

Early life (1930s-1960s)

Eddings claimed to be part Cherokee and was born in Spokane, Washington, to George Wayne Eddings and Theone (Berge) Eddings, in 1931. Eddings grew up near Puget Sound in the City of Snohomish. After graduating from Snohomish High School in 1949, he worked for a year before majoring in speech, drama and English at junior college. Eddings displayed an early talent for drama and literature, winning a national oratorical contest, and performing the male lead in most of his drama productions. He graduated with a BA from Reed College in 1954. He wrote a novel for a thesis at Reed College before being drafted into the U.S. Army. (He had also previously served in the National Guard.) After being discharged in 1956, Eddings attended the graduate school of the University of Washington in Seattle for four years, graduating with an MA in 1961. Eddings then worked as a purchaser for Boeing, where he met his future wife, then known as Judith Leigh Schall. They married in 1962, and through most of the 1960s, Eddings worked as a lecturer at Black Hills State College in South Dakota.

Early writings (1970s)

Eddings had completed the first draft of his first published novel, High Hunt, in March 1971 while serving his jail term. High Hunt was a contemporary story of four young men hunting deer, and like many of his later novels, it explores themes of manhood and coming of age. Convinced that being an author was his future career, after a short period in Denver, David and Leigh Eddings moved to Spokane where he once again relied on a job at a grocery shop for his funds. High Hunt was published in early 1972 by G.P. Putnam's Sons to modestly positive reviews.

Eddings continued to work on several unpublished novels, including Hunseeker’s Ascent, a story about mountain climbing, which was later burned as Eddings claimed it was "a piece of tripe so bad it even bored me." Most of his attempts followed the same vein as High Hunt: adventure stories and contemporary tragedies. None were sold or published, with the eventual exception of The Losers which tells the story of God and the Devil, cast in the roles of a one-eyed Indian and Jake Flood. Though written in the 1970s, The Losers was not published until June 1992, well after Eddings' success as an author was established.

Fantasy author: 1980s and forward

Eddings' call to the world of fantasy came from a doodled map he drew one morning before work. This doodle later became the geographical basis for the country of Aloria, but Eddings did not realize it until several years later. Eddings' story of this was that upon seeing a copy of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, in a bookshop, he muttered, "Is this old turkey still floating around?", and was shocked to learn that it was in its 78th printing. However, he had already included Tolkien's work in the syllabuses for at least three sections of his English Literature survey courses in the summer of 1967 and the Springs of 1968 and 1969. Eddings realized that the world of fantasy might hold some promise for his talents, and immediately began to annotate his previously forgotten doodle. Over the course of a year he added names to various kingdoms, races and characters, and invented various theologies and a mythology, all of which counted about 230 pages. Because the Lord of the Rings had been published as three books, he genuinely believed fantasy in general was supposed to be trilogies, which is why he intended The Belgariad to be a trilogy as well, and had it all laid out, when his editor Lester del Rey told him the booksellers would refuse to accept 600-page books. Instead he suggested the trilogy should be published as five books. Eddings at first refused, but having already signed the contract, and with Del Rey's promise that he would receive advances for five books instead of three, he eventually gave in to the suggestion. Pawn of Prophecy, the first volume in the series, was issued in April 1982.

The Belgariad series of books (published in five volumes between 1982 and 1984) proved enormously popular, and Eddings would continue to produce fantasy material for the rest of his life, usually producing a book every year or two. By 1995, new books were credited jointly to David and Leigh Eddings; Eddings explained in a brief foreword that their working together as authors "had been the case from the beginning." This is generally accepted to be broadly accurate, although Eddings scholar James Gifford notes that collaboration would have been "impossible" with Eddings' first published novel High Hunt, as David Eddings' own notes show that the first draft was completed while he and Leigh were both in different jails, about half-way through their terms.

The Eddings' final work, the novel series The Dreamers, was published in four volumes between 2003 and 2006.

Office fire, and Leigh Eddings' death (2007)

On January 26, 2007 it was reported that Eddings accidentally burned about a quarter of his office, next door to his house, along with his Excalibur sports car. He was flushing the fuel tank of the car with water when he lit a piece of paper and threw it into the puddle to test if it was still flammable. When asked to explain it to the firefighter he said "One word comes to mind. Dumb."

On February 28, 2007, David Eddings' wife, Leigh Eddings, who he married in 1962, died following a series of strokes that left her unable to communicate. She was 69. Eddings cared for her at home with her mother after her first stroke, which occurred three years before he finished writing The Dreamers.

Death and aftermath

Eddings resided in Carson City, Nevada, where he died of natural causes on June 2, 2009.

Dennis, Eddings' brother, said that he had been ill with dementia for a long time, but his health had been on a very fast downhill slide since September, and he required 24-hour care. He also confirmed that in his last months, his brother had been working on a manuscript that was unlike any of his other works, stating "It was very, very different. I wouldn’t call it exactly a satire of fantasy but it sure plays with the genre". The unfinished work, along with his other manuscripts, went to his alma mater, Reed College, along with a bequest of $18 million to fund "students and faculty studying languages and literature." Eddings also bequeathed $10 million to the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver for pediatric asthma treatment and research; Eddings' wife Leigh had asthma throughout her life.

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