Stephen King facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
King in 2007
|Born||Stephen Edwin King
September 21, 1947
Portland, Maine, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Maine (BA)|
|Children||3, including Joe and Owen|
Stephen Edwin King (born September 21, 1947) is an American author of horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, crime, science-fiction, and fantasy novels. Described as the "King of Horror", a play on his surname and a reference to his high standing in pop culture, his books have sold more than 350 million copies, and many have been adapted into films, television series, miniseries, and comic books. King has published 64 novels, including seven under the pen name Richard Bachman, and five non-fiction books. He has also written approximately 200 short stories, most of which have been published in book collections.
King has received Bram Stoker Awards, World Fantasy Awards, and British Fantasy Society Awards. In 2003, the National Book Foundation awarded him the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He has also received awards for his contribution to literature for his entire bibliography, such as the 2004 World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement and the 2007 Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. In 2015, he was awarded with a National Medal of Arts from the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts for his contributions to literature.
King was born in Portland, Maine, on September 21, 1947. His father, Donald Edwin King, a travelling vacuum salesman after returning from World War II, was born in Indiana with the surname Pollock, changing 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 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, his father left the family. His mother raised him and his older brother David by herself, sometimes under great financial strain. They moved from Scarborough and depended on relatives in Chicago; Croton-on-Hudson; West De Pere, Wisconsin; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Malden, Massachusetts; and Stratford, Connecticut. When King was 11, his family moved to Durham, Maine, where his mother cared for her parents until their deaths. She then became a caregiver in a local residential facility for the mentally challenged. King was raised Methodist, but lost his belief in organized religion while in high school. While no longer religious, he says he chooses to believe in the existence of God.
King related in detail his primary inspiration for writing horror fiction in his non-fiction Danse Macabre (1981), in a chapter titled "An Annoying Autobiographical Pause". He compared his uncle's dowsing for water using the bough of an apple branch with the sudden realization of what he wanted to do for a living. That inspiration occurred while browsing through an attic with his elder brother, when King uncovered a paperback version of an H. P. Lovecraft collection of short stories he remembers as The Lurker in the Shadows, that had belonged to his father. King told Barnes & Noble Studios in a 2009 interview, "I knew that I'd found home when I read that book."
King attended Durham Elementary School and graduated from Lisbon Falls High School in Lisbon Falls, Maine, in 1966. He displayed an early interest in horror as an avid reader of EC horror comics, including Tales from the Crypt, and he later paid tribute to the comics in his screenplay for Creepshow. He began writing for fun while in school, contributing articles to Dave's Rag, the newspaper his brother published with a mimeograph machine, and later began selling stories to his friends based on movies he had seen. (He was forced to return the profits when it was discovered by his teachers.) The first of his stories to be independently published was "I Was a Teenage Grave Robber", which was serialized over four issues (three published and one unpublished) of a fanzine, Comics Review, in 1965. It was republished the following year in revised form, as "In a Half-World of Terror", in another fanzine, Stories of Suspense, edited by Marv Wolfman. As a teen, King also won a Scholastic Art and Writing Award.
King entered the University of Maine in 1966, and graduated in 1970 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. That year, his daughter Naomi Rachel was born. He wrote a column, Steve King's Garbage Truck, for the student newspaper, The Maine Campus, and participated in a writing workshop organized by Burton Hatlen. King held a variety of jobs to pay for his studies, including as a janitor, a gas-station attendant, and an industrial laundry worker. He met his wife, fellow student Tabitha Spruce, at the university's Fogler Library after one of Professor Hatlen's workshops; they wed in 1971.
King sold his first professional short story, "The Glass Floor", to Startling Mystery Stories in 1967.
After graduating from the University of Maine, King earned a certificate to teach high school but, unable to find a teaching post immediately, he supplemented his laboring wage by selling short stories to men's magazines such as Cavalier. Many of these early stories were republished in the collection Night Shift. The short story "The Raft" was published in Adam, a men's magazine. After being arrested for stealing traffic cones (he was annoyed after one of the cones knocked his muffler loose), he was fined $250 for petty larceny but had no money to pay. However, a check then arrived for "The Raft" (then titled "The Float"), and King cashed it to pay the fine. In 1971, King was hired as a teacher at Hampden Academy in Hampden, Maine. He continued to contribute short stories to magazines and worked on ideas for novels. During 1966–1970, he wrote a draft about his dystopian novel called The Long Walk and the anti-war novel Sword in the Darkness, but neither of the works was published at the time; only The Long Walk was later released in 1979.
Carrie and aftermath
In 1973, King's novel, Carrie, was accepted by publishing house, Doubleday. It was King's fourth novel, but the first to be published. He wrote it on his wife Tabitha's portable typewriter. It began as a short story intended for Cavalier magazine, but King tossed the first three pages in the garbage can. Tabitha recovered the pages and encouraged him to finish the story, saying she would help him with the female perspective; he followed her advice and expanded it into a novel. He said: "I persisted because I was dry and had no better ideas… My considered opinion was that I had written the world's all-time loser." According to The Guardian, Carrie "is the story of Carrie White, a high-school student with latent—and then, as the novel progresses, developing—telekinetic powers. It's brutal in places, affecting in others (Carrie's relationship with her almost hysterically religious mother being a particularly damaged one), and gory in even more."
When Carrie was chosen for publication, King's phone was out of service. Doubleday editor William Thompson—who became King's close friend—sent a telegram to King's house in late March or early April 1973 which read: "Carrie Officially A Doubleday Book. $2,500 Advance Against Royalties. Congrats, Kid – The Future Lies Ahead, Bill." King said he bought a new Ford Pinto with the advance. On May 13, 1973, New American Library bought the paperback rights for $400,000, which—in accordance with King's contract with Doubleday—was split between them. Carrie set King's career in motion and became a significant novel in the horror genre. In 1976, it was made into a successful horror film.
King's 'Salem's Lot was published in 1975. In a 1987 issue of The Highway Patrolman magazine, he said, "The story seems sort of down home to me. I have a special cold spot in my heart for it!" After his mother's death, King and his family moved to Boulder, Colorado, where he wrote The Shining (published 1977). The family returned to Auburn, Maine in 1975, where he completed The Stand (published 1978). In 1977, the family, with the addition of Owen Philip, his third and youngest child, traveled briefly to England. They returned to Maine that fall, where King began teaching creative writing at the University of Maine.
In 1982, King published Different Seasons, a collection of four novellas with a more serious dramatic bent than the horror fiction for which he is famous. It is notable for having three of its four novellas turned into Hollywood films: Stand by Me (1986) was adapted from The Body; The Shawshank Redemption (1994) was adapted from Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption; and Apt Pupil (1998) was adapted from the novella of the same name.
In 1985, King wrote his first work for the comic book medium, writing a few pages of the benefit X-Men comic book Heroes for Hope Starring the X-Men. The book, whose profits were donated to famine relief in Africa, was written by a number of different authors in the comic book field, such as Chris Claremont, Stan Lee, and Alan Moore, as well as authors not primarily associated with comics, such as Harlan Ellison. The following year, King published It (1986), which was the best-selling hardcover novel in the United States that year, and wrote the introduction to Batman No. 400, an anniversary issue where he expressed his preference for the character over Superman.
The Dark Tower books
In the late 1970s, King began what became a series of interconnected stories about a lone gunslinger, Roland, who pursues the "Man in Black" in an alternate-reality universe that is a cross between J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth and the American Wild West as depicted by Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone in their spaghetti Westerns. The first of these stories, The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger, was initially published in five installments by The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction under the editorship of Edward L. Ferman, from 1977 to 1981. The Gunslinger was continued as an eight-book epic series called The Dark Tower, whose books King wrote and published infrequently over four decades (1978-2012).
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, King published a handful of short novels—Rage (1977), The Long Walk (1979), Roadwork (1981), The Running Man (1982) and Thinner (1984)—under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. The idea behind this was to test whether he could replicate his success again and to allay his fears that his popularity was an accident. An alternate explanation was that publishing standards at the time allowed only a single book a year. He picked up the name from the hard rock band Bachman-Turner Overdrive, of which he is a fan.
Richard Bachman was exposed as King's pseudonym by a persistent Washington, D.C. bookstore clerk, Steve Brown, who noticed similarities between the works and later located publisher's records at the Library of Congress that named King as the author of one of Bachman's novels. This led to a press release heralding Bachman's "death"—supposedly from "cancer of the pseudonym". King dedicated his 1989 book The Dark Half, about a pseudonym turning on a writer, to "the deceased Richard Bachman", and in 1996, when the Stephen King novel Desperation was released, the companion novel The Regulators carried the "Bachman" byline.
In 2006, during a press conference in London, King declared that he had discovered another Bachman novel, titled Blaze. It was published on June 12, 2007. In fact, the original manuscript had been held at King's Alma mater, the University of Maine in Orono, for many years and had been covered by numerous King experts. King rewrote the original 1973 manuscript for its publication.
King has used other pseudonyms. The short story "The Fifth Quarter" was published under the pseudonym John Swithen (the name of a character in the novel Carrie), by Cavalier in April 1972. The story was reprinted in King's collection Nightmares & Dreamscapes in 1993 under his own name. In the introduction to the Bachman novel Blaze, King claims, with tongue-in-cheek, that "Bachman" was the person using the Swithen pseudonym.
The "children's book" Charlie the Choo-Choo: From the World of The Dark Tower was published in 2016 under the pseudonym Beryl Evans, who was portrayed by actress Allison Davies during a book signing at San Diego Comic-Con, and illustrated by Ned Dameron. It is adapted from a fictional book central to the plot of King's previous novel The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands.
In 2000, King published online a serialized horror novel, The Plant. At first the public assumed that King had abandoned the project because sales were unsuccessful, but King later stated that he had simply run out of stories. The unfinished epistolary novel is still available from King's official site, now free. Also in 2000, he wrote a digital novella, Riding the Bullet, and saying he foresaw e-books becoming 50% of the market "probably by 2013 and maybe by 2012". However, he also stated: "Here's the thing—people tire of the new toys quickly."
King wrote the first draft of the 2001 novel Dreamcatcher with a notebook and a Waterman fountain pen, which he called "the world's finest word processor".
In August 2003, King began writing a column on pop culture appearing in Entertainment Weekly, usually every third week. The column was called The Pop of King (a play on the nickname "The King of Pop" commonly attributed to Michael Jackson).
In 2006, King published an apocalyptic novel, Cell. King noted in the book's introduction that he does not use cell phones.
In 2008, King published both a novel, Duma Key, and a collection, Just After Sunset. The latter featured 13 short stories, including a previously unpublished novella, N. Starting July 28, 2008, N. was released as a serialized animated series to lead up to the release of Just After Sunset.
In 2009, King published Ur, a novella written exclusively for the launch of the second-generation Amazon Kindle and available only on Amazon.com, and Throttle, a novella co-written with his son Joe Hill and released later as an audiobook titled Road Rage, which included Richard Matheson's short story "Duel". King's novel Under the Dome was published on November 10 of that year; it is a reworking of an unfinished novel he tried writing twice in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and at 1,074 pages, it is the largest novel he has written since It (1986). Under the Dome debuted at No. 1 in The New York Times Bestseller List.
On February 16, 2010, King announced on his Web site that his next book would be a collection of four previously unpublished novellas called Full Dark, No Stars. In April of that year, King published Blockade Billy, an original novella issued first by independent small press Cemetery Dance Publications and later released in mass-market paperback by Simon & Schuster. The following month, DC Comics premiered American Vampire, a monthly comic book series written by King with short-story writer Scott Snyder, and illustrated by Rafael Albuquerque, which represents King's first original comics work. King wrote the background history of the very first American vampire, Skinner Sweet, in the first five-issues story arc. Scott Snyder wrote the story of Pearl.
King's next novel, 11/22/63, was published November 8, 2011, and was nominated for the 2012 World Fantasy Award Best Novel. The eighth Dark Tower volume, The Wind Through the Keyhole, was published in 2012. King's next book was Joyland, published on April 8, 2012.
During his Chancellor's Speaker Series talk at University of Massachusetts Lowell on December 7, 2012, King indicated that he was writing a crime novel about a retired policeman. With a working title Mr. Mercedes and inspired by a true event about a woman driving her car into a McDonald's restaurant, it was originally meant to be a short story just a few pages long. In an interview with Parade, published on May 26, 2013, King confirmed that the novel was "more or less" completed he published it in June 2014. Later, on June 20, 2013, while doing a video chat with fans as part of promoting the upcoming Under the Dome TV series, King mentioned he was halfway through writing his next novel, Revival, which was released November 11, 2014.
King announced in June 2014 that Mr. Mercedes is part of a trilogy; the second book, Finders Keepers, was released on June 2, 2015. On April 22, 2015, it was revealed that King was working on the third book of the trilogy, End of Watch, which was ultimately released on June 7, 2016.
During a tour to promote End of Watch, King revealed that he had collaborated on a novel, set in a women's prison in West Virginia, with his son, Owen King, titled Sleeping Beauties.
In 2018, he released the novel The Outsider, which featured the character of Holly Gibney, and the novella Elevation. In 2019, he released the novel The Institute. In 2020, King released If It Bleeds, a collection of four previously unpublished novellas.
King has written two novels with horror novelist Peter Straub: The Talisman (1984) and a sequel, Black House (2001). King has indicated that he and Straub would likely write the third and concluding book in this series, the tale of Jack Sawyer, but after Straub passed away in 2022 the future of the series is in doubt.
King produced an artist's book with designer Barbara Kruger, My Pretty Pony (1989), published in a limited edition of 250 by the Library Fellows of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Alfred A. Knopf released it in a general trade edition.
The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red (2001) was a paperback tie-in for the King-penned miniseries Rose Red (2002). Published under anonymous authorship, the book was written by Ridley Pearson. The novel is written in the form of a diary by Ellen Rimbauer, and annotated by the fictional professor of paranormal activity, Joyce Reardon. The novel also presents a fictional afterword by Ellen Rimbauer's grandson, Steven. Intended to be a promotional item rather than a stand-alone work, its popularity spawned a 2003 prequel television miniseries to Rose Red, titled The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer. This spin-off is a rare occasion of another author being granted permission to write commercial work using characters and story elements invented by King. The novel tie-in idea was repeated on Stephen King's next project, the miniseries Kingdom Hospital. Richard Dooling, King's collaborator on Kingdom Hospital and writer of several episodes in the miniseries, published a fictional diary, The Journals of Eleanor Druse, in 2004. Eleanor Druse is a key character in Kingdom Hospital, much as Dr. Joyce Readon and Ellen Rimbauer are key characters in Rose Red.
Throttle (2009), a novella written in collaboration with his son Joe Hill, appears in the anthology He Is Legend: Celebrating Richard Matheson. Their second novella collaboration, In the Tall Grass (2012), was published in two parts in Esquire. It was later released in e-book and audiobook formats, the latter read by Stephen Lang.
King and his son Owen King wrote the novel Sleeping Beauties, released in 2017, that is set in a women's prison.
King and Richard Chizmar collaborated to write Gwendy's Button Box (2017), a horror novella taking place is King's fictional town of Castle Rock. A sequel titled Gwendy's Magic Feather (2019) was written solely by Chizmar. In November 2020, Chizmar announced that he and King were writing a third installment in the series titled Gwendy's Final Task, this time as a full-length novel, to be released in February 2022.
In 1988, the band Blue Öyster Cult recorded an updated version of its 1974 song "Astronomy". The single released for radio play featured a narrative intro spoken by King. The Blue Öyster Cult song "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" was also used in the King TV series The Stand.
King collaborated with Michael Jackson to create Ghosts (1996), a 40-minute musical video. King states he was motivated to collaborate as he is "always interested in trying something new, and for (him), writing a minimusical would be new". In 2005, King featured with a small spoken word part during the cover version of Everlong (by Foo Fighters) in Bronson Arroyo's album Covering the Bases, at the time, Arroyo was a pitcher for Major League Baseball team Boston Red Sox of whom King is a longtime fan. In 2012, King collaborated with musician Shooter Jennings and his band Hierophant, providing the narration for their album, Black Ribbons. King played guitar for the rock band Rock Bottom Remainders, several of whose members are authors. Other members include Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson, Scott Turow, Amy Tan, James McBride, Mitch Albom, Roy Blount, Jr., Matt Groening, Kathi Kamen Goldmark, Sam Barry, and Greg Iles. King and the other band members collaborated to release an e-book called Hard Listening: The Greatest Rock Band Ever (of Authors) Tells All (June 2013). King wrote a musical entitled Ghost Brothers of Darkland County (2012) with musician John Mellencamp.
King has stated that he donates approximately $4 million per year "to libraries, local fire departments that need updated lifesaving equipment (Jaws of Life tools are always a popular request), schools, and a scattering of organisations that underwrite the arts."
The Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, chaired by King and his wife, ranks sixth among Maine charities in terms of average annual giving with over $2.8 million in grants per year, according to The Grantsmanship Center.
In November 2011, the STK Foundation donated $70,000 in matched funding via his radio station to help pay the heating bills for families in need in his home town of Bangor, Maine, during the winter.
In February 2021, King's Foundation donated $6,500 to help children from the Farwell Elementary School in Lewiston, Maine, to publish two novels on which they had been working over the course of several prior years, before being stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Maine.
King married Tabitha Spruce on January 2, 1971. She too is a novelist and philanthropic activist. They own and divide their time between three houses: one in Bangor, Maine, one in Lovell, Maine, and for the winter a waterfront mansion located off the Gulf of Mexico in Sarasota, Florida. King's home in Bangor has been described as an unofficial tourist attraction, and as of 2019[update], the couple plan to convert it into a facility housing his archives, as well as a writers' retreat.
The Kings have three children—a daughter and two sons—and four grandchildren. Their daughter Naomi is a Unitarian Universalist Church minister in Plantation, Florida, with her partner, Rev. Dr. Thandeka. Both of the Kings' sons are authors: Owen King published his first collection of stories, We're All in This Together: A Novella and Stories, in 2005. Joseph Hillström King, who writes as Joe Hill, published a collection of short stories, 20th Century Ghosts, in 2005. His debut novel, Heart-Shaped Box (2007), was optioned by Warner Bros.
King told Bon Appétit magazine in 2013 that he married Tabitha "because of the fish that she cooked for me." He said his favorite foods are baked salmon and cheesecake. A recipe from King, Lunchtime Gloop, is included in the 2020 cookbook Maine Bicentennial Community Cookbook. The Rachael Ray magazine printed the recipe as made with "greasy hamburger" and canned spaghetti.
King and his wife Tabitha own Zone Radio Corp, a radio station group consisting of WZON/620 AM, WKIT/100.3 & WZLO/103.1.
In sports, King is a longtime fan of Major League Baseball team Boston Red Sox. His nonfiction book Faithful published in 2004, co-written with his friend and fellow author Stewart O'Nan, chronicles the exchanges between King and O'Nan (also a longtime fan of the Red Sox) about the historic 2004 Boston Red Sox season that culminated with the Red Sox winning the 2004 World Series, ending an 86-year championship drought.
|1981||Knightriders||No||No||No||Yes||Role: Hoagie Man|
|1982||Creepshow||No||No||Yes||Yes||Role: Jordy Verrill|
|1986||Maximum Overdrive||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Role: Man at Bank ATM|
|1987||Creepshow 2||No||No||No||Yes||Role: Truck Driver|
|1987||Tales from the Darkside||No||No||Yes||No||1 episode: "Sorry, Right Number"|
|1989||Pet Sematary||No||No||Yes||Yes||Role: Minister|
|1991||Golden Years||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Miniseries, also created by King, role: Bus Driver|
|1992||Sleepwalkers||No||No||Yes||Yes||Role: Cemetery Caretaker|
|1994||The Stand||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Miniseries, role: Teddy Weizak|
|1995||The Langoliers||No||No||No||Yes||Miniseries, role: Tom Holby|
|1997||The Shining||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Miniseries, role: Gage Creed|
|1998||The X-Files||No||No||Yes||No||1 episode: "Chinga"|
|1999||Storm of the Century||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Miniseries, role: Lawyer in Ad / Reporter on Broken TV|
|1999||Frasier||No||No||No||Yes||1 episode: "Mary Christmas", role: Brian|
|2002||Rose Red||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Miniseries, role: Pizza Delivery Guy|
|2003||The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer||No||Yes||No||No||TV film|
|2004||Kingdom Hospital||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||9 episodes, also developed by King, role: Johnny B. Goode|
|2004||Riding the Bullet||No||Yes||No||No|
|2005||Fever Pitch||No||No||No||Yes||Role: Stephen King|
|2005||Gotham Cafe||No||No||No||Yes||Short film, role: Mr. Ring|
|2007||Diary of the Dead||No||No||No||Yes||Role: Newsreader (voice, uncredited)|
|2010||Sons of Anarchy||No||No||No||Yes||1 episode: "Caregiver", role: Bachman|
|2012||Stuck in Love||No||No||No||Yes||Role: Stephen King (voice)|
|2014||Under the Dome||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||1 episode: "Heads Will Roll", role: Diner Patron|
|2014||A Good Marriage||No||No||Yes||No|
|2017||Mr. Mercedes||No||Yes||No||Yes||Role: Diner Patron|
|2019||It Chapter Two||No||No||No||Yes||Role: Shopkeeper|
In Spanish: Stephen King para niños
- List of adaptations of works by Stephen King
- Castle Rock (Stephen King)
- Charles Scribner's Sons (aka Scribner)
- Derry (Stephen King)
- Dollar Baby
- Origins of a Story
- Jerusalem's Lot (Stephen King)
Images for kids
King at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, 2013
Stephen King Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.