|On September 21, 1947, Ruth Pillsbury King gave birth
to Stephen. She and her husband, Donald Edwin King, had adopted David
at birth two years earlier. Early in his life, Stephen got a glimpse of
what his characters would feel. His father said he was going out to get
cigarettesbut never came back. To this day, they do not know what
became of him. Kidnapped by a gunslinger, perhaps? After moving from state
to state, Ruth settled in Durham, ME, in 1958.
The following year, Stephen began what was to be a long and arduous
journey to his destiny of being the greatest horror author of all time.
In January, David and Stephen published Daves Rag, chartered
as a local newspaper. It came out as mimeograph copies, for five cents
In 1962, Stephen went to Lisbon High School (in Lisbon, of course).
The following year, he and his best friend (Chris Chesley), published
a collection of 18 short stories: People, Places, and ThingsVolume
I. The next year, Triad and Gaslight Books (Stephen Kings
amateur press) The Star Invadersa two-part book. Still,
King could not get published unless he did it himselfuntil 1965.
Thats when Comics Review Magazine ran his 6,000-word story
I Was a Teenage Grave Robber. Keep in mind, King was still in
high school during this time. He graduated in 1966 and went to the University
of Maine on a scholarship. King considered himself an average student,
and his grades reflected this.
In the summer of 1966, King began to write Getting It On. In
this novel, highschoolers take over a classroombut eventually
lose to the National Guard. Still in his first year of college, King
abandoned that project to complete his first full length novel
The Long Walk. King submitted this to Random House, who promptly
rejected it. The rejection didnt go over well with King. However,
King did manage to sell
The Glass Floor. For $35.
King graduated in 1970 with a Bachelor of Science in English and a
certificate to teach high school. The poet Robert Browning inspired
Kings Gunslinger/Dark Tower series with his poem Child
Roland to the Dark Tower Came. The work proved to be too much, given
his financial circumstances, so he shelved it in favor of a gas station
job that paid $1.25/hr. Still, King persisted in writing. He did smaller
projectsthings he could sell. Mens magazines picked up his
short stories and this kept him writing.
Six months after his graduation, he married Tabitha Jane Spruce (January
2, 1971). That fall, the Kings moved to Hermon (west of Bangor), where
he accepted a teaching job at Hampden Academy. That job brought his
income to $6,400/year.
Its a good thing Stephen had Tabitha in his life. After starting
a story about a teenager named Carietta White, Stephen got disgusted
with it. He wadded up the pages and threw them in the trash. Tabitha
pulled those pages out of the trash, read them, and then convinced Stephen
to complete the storywhich became Carrie. Doubleday bought
the book in March of 1973. They sold the paperback rights to New American
Library for $400,000. The book contract awarded Stephen $200,000 of
that take. Shortly after that, he quit his teaching job to pursue writing
full time. The Kings live in Bangor, ME, where Stephen writes at home.
The Kings generosity to Bangor is legendary, as is their humble
We fans of King had a major scare in 1999. King was hit by a car, and
severe injuries put him in critical condition. After three weeks of
operations to deal wit his severely fractured hip, broken ribs, broken
leg, and lung injury, Central Maine Medical Center finally released
him. And we fans breathed a collective sigh of relief. Yet, Kings
nightmare is not over. At the time of this writing (April, 2000), he
still requires extensive rehabilitation and is unable to walk. The gift
that is Stephen Kings ability to produce enrapturing, emotion-driving
stories is on a sabbatical until King no longer needs to focus so much
energy on healing.