Stephen King

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King, Stephen

King, Stephen, 1947–, American writer, b. Portland, Maine. Influenced by the 19th-century Gothic tradition, especially the works of Poe, King's fiction reveals the macabre and horrific potential of everyday situations and experiences. Noted for their cinematic style, many of his novels and stories have become films, some with screenplays by King, e.g., Pet Sematary (1989, film 1992), Carrie (1974, film 1976), The Shining (1977, film 1980) and its sequel, Doctor Sleep (2013, film 2019), It (1986, film 2017), Misery (1987, film 1990), Needful Things (1991, film 1993), Dolores Claiborne (1992, film 1995), Dreamcatcher (2001, film 2003), and A Good Marriage (2010, film 2014). His other novels include Rose Madder (1995); Bag of Bones (1998); the fantasy series The Dark Tower (7 vol., 1982–2004); Cell (2006); Lisey's Story (2006); Duma Key (2008); Under the Dome (2009); the baseball-themed Blockade Billy (2010); the time-traveling 11/22/63 (2011); Revival (2014); the crime-fiction trilogy Mr. Mercedes (2014, winner of an Edgar award), Finders Keepers (2015), and End of Watch (2016); Sleeping Beauties (2017), written by King and his son Owen; and The Institute (2019). If It Bleeds (2020) is a collection of novellas. King experimented relatively early with electronic publishing; the novella Riding the Bullet (2000, film 2004) was the first mass-market e-book, and the novel The Plant was released in six installments on the Internet in 2000. His On Writing (2000) recounts his life, his craft, and a near-fatal accident. King's novels, short stories, screenplays, and essays have made him one of the world's best-selling authors.
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King, Stephen (1947–)

(pop culture)

Since the mid-1970s Stephen King has been America’s premiere horror fiction writer. He was born in Portland, Maine, the son of Nellie Ruth Pillsbury and Donald King. As a child, he began to write science fiction short stories, and at the age of 12 submitted his first stories to Fantastic and the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. King graduated from the University of Maine in 1970. His first published story, “The Glass Floor,” appeared in Startling Mystery Stories in 1967, while he was still in college.

Unable to obtain a job as an English teacher, King started working in an industrial laundry. During this period he wrote a number of short stories, and in 1972 began working on his first book, Carrie, eventuallypublished by Doubleday & Company. King then turned his attention to a vampire tale originally called “Second Coming,” but later renamed “Jerusalem’s Lot.” The story was published in 1975 as Salem’s Lot. Meanwhile King was working on his subsequent novels, The Shining (1977) and The Stand (1978).

In 1976, Salem’s Lot was nominated for a World Fantasy Award in the best-novel category. That same year, Carrie was released as a movie starring Sissy Spacek. King, a very fertile storyteller, also began to publish material under a pseudonym, Richard Bachman; the first title, Rage, appeared in 1977. He also published a second vampire short story, “One for the Road,” that year.

During the 1980s, King enjoyed immense success. In his novels he has attempted to explore the vast world of horror and terror, and by choice has rarely returned to a theme once treated. Thus, after one successful vampire volume, he has not returned to the topic for a book, though he published a vampire novella story, “The Night Flier,” in 1988. Meanwhile, several of his novels flirted with vampirism. The most obvious was The Tommyknockers (1987), which featured an alien vampire.

In 1979 Salem’s Lot was made into a television miniseries under the direction of Tobe Hooper, and a sequel (not based on King’s writing), Return to Salem’s Lot, appeared in 1987. Salem’s Lot, this time starring Rob Lowe, was remade in 2004 under the direction of Mikael Solomon. The Tommyknockers was brought to the screen (for television) in 1993, and The Night Flier in 1997.

King has continued to write about two novels annually, his output only slowing slightly following the accident in 1999 that almost killed him. He did not return to the vampire theme in the 1990s. Vampires reappear in his fiction, however, in 2003 in Wolves of the Calla. Its sequel Song of Susannah (2004) features psychic or emotional vampires. The most notable of the vampire characters is Dandelo (a.k.a. Joe Collins) who almost succeeds in killing Roland, the hero of the series.

Since 1985, when it was it revealed that he had written the Richard Bachman books, King’s name has appeared on new printings of them. As might be expected, King has received a numerous awards for his writing including eight Bram Stoker awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award (2003) bestowed by his colleagues in the Horror Writers’ Association.


Hoppenstand, Gary, and Ray B. Browne. The Gothic World of Stephen King: Landscape of Nightmares. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1987. 143 pp.
King, Stephen. Salem’s Lot. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1975. 439 pp.
———. “One for the Road.” In Maine Magazine (March/April 1977). Reprinted in Vamps. Greenberg, Martin H., and Charles G. Waugh, eds. New York: Daw Books, 1987, 12–30.
———. “Jerusalem’s Lot.” In Night Shift. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1978.
———. Tommyknockers. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1987. 558 pp.
———. “The Night Flier.” In Prime Evil. Douglas E. Winter, ed. New York: New American Library, 1988.
Reino, Joseph. Stephen King: The First Decade, Carrie to Pet Semitary. Boston, MA: Twayne Publishers, 1988.
Straub, Peter. “Meeting Stevie.” In Fear Itself: The Horror Fiction of Stephen King. San Francisco: Underwood-Miller, 1982. 255 pp.
Wiater, Stanley, Christopher Golden, and Hank Wagner. The Complete Stephen King Universe: A Guide to the Worlds of Stephen King. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2006. 432 pp.
Winter, Douglas E. Stephen King: The Art of Darkness. New York: New American Library, 1984.
The Vampire Book, Second Edition © 2011 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.

King, Stephen (Edwin) (Steve King, Richard Bachman, John Swithen, pen names)

(1947–  ) writer; born in Portland, Maine. He graduated from his state university and continued to live in Maine, at first supporting himself with odd jobs while establishing his writing career. The success of his first horror novel, Carrie (1974), enabled him to publish earlier work under the pseudonym Richard Bachman (1977–84), a ploy which disguised the true extent of his prolific output of novels, short stories, and screenplays until the ruse became public knowledge and he abandoned it. His own name became synonymous with best-selling novels blending horror, fantasy, and science fiction into a consistently scary mix. His books sold more than one hundred million copies worldwide and included Salem's Lot (1975), The Shining (1977), The Dead Zone (1979), Misery (1987), Needful Things (1991), and Gerald's Game (1992). Several were made into successful movies and he himself tried his hand at directing movies.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.