Stephen King Additional Biography


(Literary Newsmakers for Students)

Probably the best-known, bestselling, and most prolific writer of his time, Stephen King was born to working-class parents in Portland,...

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(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Perhaps more than any other modern novelist, King has demonstrated it is possible to combine phenomenal commercial success with serious artistic purpose. He shares with other great authors the talent to produce works that can be read and enjoyed on more than one level. His frightening plots, believable characters, and rich descriptive details make his works outstanding as pure entertainment, while his perceptive analyses of the many natures of evil contain profound ideas worthy of serious consideration.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Stephen Edwin King was born in 1947 in Maine, where he lived the majority of his life. His parents had adopted his elder brother, David, several years before King was born, since his mother was told that she would be unable to have children. King’s father abandoned the family when King was two years old. After his parents’ separation, King’s mother moved the family to Indiana, then Connecticut, and finally, in 1958, back to Maine to be near her aging parents. King’s mother was a strict Methodist with fundamentalist leanings, and David and Stephen attended church and Bible school several times a week.

King began to show an interest in writing at age seven or eight, partly to amuse himself during frequent periods of illness. His mother often read to her sons, including some of Classic Comics’ adaptations of famous novels; King was impressed by H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine (1895) and The War of the Worlds (1898). He was always an avid reader and loved adventure stories and science fiction; thus, even his juvenile work was influenced by fantasy and horror. At the age of twelve, he sent stories to the magazines Fantastic and Fantasy and Science Fiction; soon afterward, he discovered the stories of H. P. Lovecraft and began reading a range of horror fiction, including the works of Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, several gothic novelists, and Richard Matheson, whose horror novels, set in modern times, greatly...

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(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

The second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King, Stephen Edwin King has lived most of his life in Maine, the setting for most of his fiction. Two childhood traumas, neither of which he remembers, may have been formative. In 1949, when he was two years old, his parents separated and his father disappeared. In 1951, he apparently saw a train dismember a neighborhood friend.

King’s conservative Methodist upbringing was supplemented early with a diet of comic books and Weird Tales. When twelve, he began submitting stories for sale. In 1970, he graduated from the University of Maine, Orono, with a B.S. in English and a minor in dramatics. He encountered two lasting influences: the naturalist writers and contemporary American mythology. He also met Tabitha Jane Spruce, whom he married in 1971.

After graduation, he worked in an industrial laundry until 1971, when he became an English instructor at a preparatory school in Hampden, Maine. He wrote at night in the trailer he shared with his wife and two children. In the early 1970’s, he sold stories to men’s magazines. Then, in 1974, he published Carrie, which was followed by several best sellers and sales of motion-picture rights.

King settled in Maine with his wife Tabitha King, a novelist and the writer of Small World (1981), Caretakers (1983), and others. They had three children, Naomi, Joe, and Owen. In addition to writing daily (except Christmas and his birthday), King became active in opposing censorship, composing essays and lecturing on the topic and supporting controversial publications. He also indulged his love of rock and roll, having purchased a local radio station (renamed WZON) and occasionally performing, with writers Dave Barry, Amy Tan, and others, in a group named the Rock-Bottom Remainders.

In 1999, King was struck by an automobile while walking along a road near his home. His injuries were quite severe, yet the famous author remained upbeat and philosophical during his lengthy recovery. He incorporated this painful accident into much of his subsequent long fiction, including Song of Susanna, the Dark Tower series, Lisey’s Story, and Duma Key.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine, on September 12, 1947. Most of his life has been spent in Maine, and a significant portion of his fiction has been set in the state. He and his brother grew up without any contact with their father, who abandoned their mother. His mother worked very hard to support the family and to keep it together.

King began writing as an undergraduate at the University of Maine at Orono. He majored in English and earned a teaching certificate. He sold short stories to magazines and wrote several full-length novels that were not accepted for publication. He turned to teaching as a way to support himself and his wife and children. As rejection slips from publishers mounted, he began to wonder whether he would ever be a success. He has admitted that in his despair he turned to drinking and drugs. He persisted with his writing, however, and finally Carrie (1974) was not only accepted for publication but became, in paperback, a huge best seller as well.

King does not like to think of himself as a celebrity. He has settled in Maine with his family, although he has become involved with some of the film adaptations of his work and has traveled across the country to promote his books. He is known primarily as a writer of horror fiction. His works written under the name Richard Bachman have also been successful. King received the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award in 2007.


(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

Author Profile

King began writing in high school and sold two short stories before finishing college. In 1974 he published his first novel, Carrie, about an outcast teenager with telekinetic powers, her religious fanatic mother, and her humiliation at the hands of fellow teens. Over the next twenty years, King published twenty- five novels under his own name, eight collections of short stories, five novels under the pen name Richard Bachman, and three works of nonfiction. Almost all of King’s books involve supernatural forces and violent action; many have been best-sellers.

King’s books have been challenged since 1975, when Carrie was criticized by officials at Clark High School in Las Vegas, Nevada. By 1988 the report Attacks on Freedom to Learn listed King as the third-most censored author in the United States (after Judy Blume and John Steinbeck). According to the American Library Association, in 1994 King and V. C. Andrews were challenged more often than any other authors. The most common charges against King’s books are his use of profanity, violent subject matter, ridicule of religion, and celebration of the occult. King’s novels have often been taken from public school libraries or placed on restricted shelves.


Beahm, George W. The Stephen King Story. Kansas City, Mo.: Andrews and McMeel, 1992. A good, updated biography of King. Includes bibliographical references and an index.

Bloom, Harold, ed. Stephen King: Modern Critical Views. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 1998. This is the best single collection of essays about King, many collected from other sources listed here, but including previously unreprinted pieces from journals or non-King-specific books. High-quality pieces cover a range of themes and King’s works through Needful Things. Good chronology, bibliography, and index.

Collings, Michael R. Scaring Us to Death: The Impact of Stephen King on Popular Culture. 2d rev. ed. San Bernardino, Calif.: Borgo Press, 1997. Examines King’s influence on the rise of horror fiction in the United States.

Collings, Michael R. The Work of Stephen King: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide. San Bernardino, Calif.: Borgo Press, 1996. Provides both a good chronology and useful descriptions of some of King’s hard-to-find works, as well as a copious annotated list of secondary sources.

Docherty, Brian, ed. American Horror Fiction: From Brockden Brown to Stephen King. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990. This collection of essays places King’s works into context with other American horror writers.

Herron, Don, ed. Reign of Fear: Fiction and Film of Stephen King. Los Angeles: Underwood and Miller, 1988. The essays in this collection discuss the significance of film in the development of King’s reputation.

Hohne, Karen A. “The Power of the Spoken Word in the Works of Stephen King.” Journal of Popular Culture 28 (Fall, 1994): 93-103. Discusses the tension in King’s work between slang speech, which codifies a knowledge rejected by those in power, and monologic orality, which embodies that power;...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Stephen Edwin King is one of the most influential American writers of horror fiction of the latter half of the twentieth century; he is certainly the most popular. He was born in Portland, Maine, on September 21, 1947, to Donald and Ruth King. He graduated from the University of Maine in 1970 and married Tabitha Spruce in 1971; King and his family settled in Maine. Before achieving his position as the dean of American horror fiction, King supported his family by working as a janitor, in a laundry, and in a knitting mill. He later taught high school English and was writer-in-residence at the University of Maine at Orono from 1978 to 1979.{$S[A]Bachman, Richard;King, Stephen}

King’s first novel, Carrie, was an...

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(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Stephen Edward King was born on September 21, 1947, in Portland, Maine. He was the second son of a middle-aged couple, Donald and Nellie King. In 1949, Donald King disappeared and was never seen or heard from again by his family. Stephen and his elder brother, David, were brought up in straitened circumstances by their mother, who was forced to rely upon the charity of relatives. The family spent several years in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Stratford, Connecticut, before settling down, in 1958, in Durham, Maine, where Nellie cared for her aging parents.

Stephen King was a rather sickly child, and illness once kept him out of school for an entire year. To entertain himself, he began writing at about the age of seven,...

(The entire section is 916 words.)