Stephen Edwin King is an American horror, supernatural fiction, thriller, crime, science-fiction, and fantasy novelist who was born on September 21, 1947. His works have sold more than 350 million copies, and many have been made into films, television shows, miniseries, and comic books. He is known as the “King of Horror,” a pun on his surname and a reference to his great status in pop culture. King has written 63 novels and five non-fiction books, seven of which were written under the pen name Richard Bachman. He’s also authored almost 200 short stories, the majority of which have appeared in anthologies.
Bram Stoker Awards, World Fantasy Awards, and British Fantasy Society Awards have all been given to King. He received the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation in 2003. He has also garnered honors for his contributions to literature throughout his career, including the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 2004 and the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award in 2007. He received a National Medal of Arts from the United States National Endowment for the Arts in 2015 for his contributions to writing.
Stephen Edwin King was born on September 21, 1947, in Portland, Maine. Donald Edwin King, his father, was a commercial seaman who had the surname Pollock as a child but changed it to King as an adult. Nellie Ruth King (née Pillsbury) was King’s mother. On July 23, 1939, his parents married in Scarborough, Maine. They stayed with Donald’s family in Chicago for a while before relocating to Croton-on-Hudson, New York. Near the end of World War II, King’s parents returned to Maine and settled in a little house in Scarborough. King’s father abandoned the family when he was two years old. His mother raised him and his older brother David on her alone, despite being financially strained at times. They relocated from Scarborough to Chicago, Croton-on-Hudson, West De Pere, Wisconsin, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Malden, Massachusetts, and Stratford, Connecticut, where they relied on relatives. King’s family relocated to Durham, Maine, when he was 11 years old, where his mother cared for her parents until their deaths. She then went on to work as a caregiver in a nearby mentally challenged residential institution. King was raised as a Methodist, but as he entered high school, he lost faith in organized religion. Despite the fact that he is no longer religious, he claims to believe in the presence of God.
King is said to have witnessed one of his friends been hit and killed by a train as a boy, however he has no recollection of the incident. King returned home dumbfounded and in disbelief, according to his family, after leaving home to play with the child. The family didn’t find out about the friend’s death till later. Some have speculated that this occurrence may have mentally influenced some of King’s harsher works, yet in his biography On Writing, King makes no mention of it (2000). In a chapter titled “An Annoying Autobiographical Pause” of his non-fiction book Danse Macabre (1981), he detailed his fundamental inspiration for writing horror literature. He related his uncle’s water dowsing with an apple branch limb to his own sudden revelation of what he wanted to do for a living. While searching in an attic with his older brother, King came across a paperback copy of an H. P. Lovecraft collection of short stories, which he remembered as The Lurker in the Shadows, which had belonged to his father. “I knew I’d found home when I read that book,” King told Barnes & Noble Studios in a 2009 interview.
In Lisbon Falls, Maine, King attended Durham Elementary School and graduated from Lisbon Falls High School in 1966. He showed an early interest in horror by reading EC horror comics, such as Tales from the Crypt, and later paid homage to the comics in his Creepshow script. He began writing for pleasure while still in school, contributing articles to Dave’s Rag, his brother’s mimeographed newspaper, and later began selling fiction based on movies he had seen to his friends (he was forced to return the profits when discovered by teachers.) “I Was a Teenage Grave Robber,” serialized in four issues (three published and one unpublished) of the fanzine Comics Review in 1965, was the first of his stories to be independently published. That story was reprinted as “In a Half-World of Terror” in another fanzine, Stories of Suspense, edited by Marv Wolfman, the following year. King also received a Scholastic Art and Writing Award when he was a teenager.
King attended the University of Maine from 1966 to 1970, earning a Bachelor of Arts in English. Naomi Rachel, his daughter, was born that year. He contributed a column to The Maine Campus’s student newspaper, Steve King’s Garbage Truck, and took part in a writing class led by Burton Hatlen. To help pay for his education, King worked as a janitor, a gas pump attendant, and an industrial laundry worker. After one of Professor Hatlen’s workshops, King met his wife, fellow student Tabitha Spruce, outside the university’s Fogler Library, and the two married in 1971.
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