Stephen Edwin King was born on September 21, 1947, at the Maine General Hospital in Portland. His parents were Nellie Ruth (Pillsbury), who worked as a caregiver at a mental institute, and Donald Edwin King, a merchant seaman. His father was born under the surname “Pollock,” but used the last name “King,” under which Stephen was born. He has an older brother, David. The Kings were a typical family until one night, when Donald said he was stepping out for cigarettes and was never heard from again. Ruth took over raising the family with help from relatives. They traveled throughout many states over several years, finally moving back to Durham, Maine, in 1958.
Stephen began his actual writing career in January of 1959, when David and Stephen decided to publish their own local newspaper named “Dave’s Rag”. David bought a mimeograph machine, and they put together a paper they sold for five cents an issue. Stephen attended Lisbon High School, in Lisbon, in 1962. Collaborating with his best friend Chris Chesley in 1963, they published a collection of 18 short stories called “People, Places, and Things–Volume I”. King’s stories included “Hotel at the End of the Road”, “I’ve Got to Get Away!”, “The Dimension Warp”, “The Thing at the Bottom of the Well”, “The Stranger”, “I’m Falling”, “The Cursed Expedition”, and “The Other Side of the Fog.” A year later, King’s amateur press, Triad and Gaslight Books, published a two-part book titled “The Star Invaders”.
King made his first actual published appearance in 1965 in the magazine Comics Review with his story “I Was a Teenage Grave Robber.” The story ran about 6,000 words in length. In 1966 he graduated from high school and took a scholarship to attend the University of Maine. Looking back on his high school days, King recalled that “my high school career was totally undistinguished. I was not at the top of my class, nor at the bottom.” Later that summer King began working on a novel called “Getting It On”, about some kids who take over a classroom and try unsuccessfully to ward off the National Guard. During his first year at college, King completed his first full-length novel, “The Long Walk.” He submitted the novel to Bennett Cerf/Random House only to have it rejected. King took the rejection badly and filed the book away.
He made his first small sale–$35–with the story “The Glass Floor”. In June 1970 King graduated from the University of Maine with a Bachelor of Science degree in English and a certificate to teach high school. King’s next idea came from the poem by Robert Browning, “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came.” He found bright colored green paper in the library and began work on “The Dark Tower” saga, but his chronic shortage of money meant that he was unable to further pursue the novel, and it, too, was filed away. King took a job at a filling station pumping gas for the princely sum of $1.25 an hour. Soon he began to earn money for his writings by submitting his short stories to men’s magazines such as Cavalier.
On January 2, 1971, he married Tabitha King (born Tabitha Jane Spruce). In the fall of 1971 King took a teaching job at Hampden Academy, earning $6,400 a year. The Kings then moved to Hermon, a town west of Bangor. Stephen then began work on a short story about a teenage girl named Carietta White. After completing a few pages, he decided it was not a worthy story and crumpled the pages up and tossed them into the trash. Fortunately, Tabitha took the pages out and read them. She encouraged her husband to continue the story, which he did. In January 1973 he submitted “Carrie” to Doubleday. In March Doubleday bought the book. On May 12 the publisher sold the paperback rights for the novel to New American Library for $400,000. His contract called for his getting half of that sum, and he quit his teaching job to pursue writing full time. The rest, as they say, is history.
Since then King has had numerous short stories and novels published and movies made from his work. He has been called the “Master of Horror”. His books have been translated into 33 different languages, published in over 35 different countries. There are over 300 million copies of his novels in publication. He continues to live in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, and writes out of his home.
In June 1999 King was severely injured in an accident, he was walking alongside a highway and was hit by a car, that left him in critical condition with injuries to his lung, broken ribs, a broken leg and a severely fractured hip. After three weeks of operations, he was released from the Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.
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