Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine. His father, a merchant seaman, deserted the family in 1950. The young Stephen and his brother David were raised in Durham, Maine, by their mother who worked in odd jobs to support her children. At the age of six, he had his eardrum punctured several time. King attended a grammar school in Durham and Lisbon Falls High school, where he started to write short stories and played in an amateur rock band. In 1960 he submitted his first story for publication – it was rejected. He edited the school newspaper, The Drum, and also wrote for the local newspaper, Lisbon Weekly Enterprise. His first story, entitled ‘In a Half-World of Terror’, came out in a horror fanzine.
In 1970 King graduated from the University of Maine. Next year he married Tabitha Spruce, who has also gained fame as a writer. Since the late 2000s, King has spend with his wife winters in Florida, near Sarasota.
From 1971 to 1974 King was an instructor at the Hampden Academy, earning $6,400 a year. His first novel, Carrie (1974), was a tale of a girl with telekinetic powers.
In the late summer of 1974 King moved with his family to Colorado for an extended holiday. He visited the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, and set there his next novel, The Shining (1975), about a writer named Jack Torrance, who succumbs to insanity and tries to kill his family.
In between The Shining and The Stand, King produced the first 75 pages for a new novel, but abandoned the manuscript. He wrote a second, unpublished version called The Cannibals in 1985 and started again in 2007. The finished work, Under the Dome (2009), told of the residents of a small town who are trapped beneath a giant dome.
The Dead Zone (1979) and 11.22.63 (2011) tackled the subject of the possibility of altering the course of history. Highly popular and internationally acclaimed author, King’s own work has definitely changed the genre of horror fiction. His first paperbacks King wrote under the name of Richard Bachman: he wanted to to create an alter-ego so that he could experiment with new styles and publish more than one book a year. The Talisman (1984) and its sequel, The Black House (2001), were written with Peter Staub. Christine (1983) was censored and banned in many schools for containing explicit sexual thought of teenage boys. Parents of students have also attacked Carrie, Firestarter, The Shining, and The Stand, complaining that they should be removed from the school library.
King has also published non-fiction. In his collection of essays, Danse Macabre (1981), King described the writing process as a kind of “dance” in which the author searches out the private fears of each reader.
After writing The Pet Sematary King considered he don’t need to publish “the most wretched, awful thing” he made, Bag of Bones (1998).
From the beginning of his career, King has examined the forces of unconsciousness that are hidden behind creative processes. In Misery a monstrous muse forces a writer into a slavery in front of typewriter. He is addicted to his work, but at the same time he is haunted by the demands of his fans. Although King is respected as a major force in popular fiction, his books blend the line between high art and pulp culture. In Hearts in Atlantis (1999) typical horror elements are reduced as a metaphor of lost innocence. King pointedly refers to William Golding’s modern classic, Lord of the Flies.
A number of King’s stories have been adapted into screen.
King’s Dark Tower series, which started in 1982 with The Gunslinger, has combined Tolkien’s sense of wonder with a horror and Sergio-Leone influenced Western.
King confesses in On Writing that he had problems with alcohol as early as in 1975, when he wrote The Shining, and he also developed in the 1980s a drung addiction. However, it did not interfere with either the quality of quantity of his output; he still poured out thousands of words nearly every day. In June 1999 King was struck by a van and seriously injured. Soon after the accident, in July, King began publishing a serial novel, entitled The Plant, at his website, stephenking.com.
While convalescing from the accident, King took a look at his struggling early career in On Writing (2000). Most of all, the book gives down-to-earth advises for aspiring writers. “Write what you like, then imbue it with life and make it unique by blending in your own personal knowledge of life, friendship, relationships, sex and work. Especially work. People love to read about work. God knows why, but they do.” In February 2002 King revealed to the Los Angeles Times that he has decided to stop publishing at year’s end after finishing the last three novels in his “Dark Tower” series, and some other works. In 2003 King received the National Book Award. Its previous recipients include John Updike, Arthur Miller, Philip Roth and Toni Morrison. From the mid 2000s onwards, King’s stories seems to have taken a new turn, in which the horror is not only a genre manifestation but the feelings of angst and fear are a definition of the whole human existence. Duma Key (2008), his first novel set in Florida, follows Lisey’s Story (2006), about a writer’s widow. In 2011 King joined a liberal protest rally against Florida’s Republican governor. Though King himself in an unapologetic gun-owner, he had criticized gun-rights advocates, and said in an essay entitled ‘Guns’ (Kindle Single, January 25, 2013), that “Plenty of gun advocates cling to their semi-automatics the way Amy Winehouse and Michael Jackson clung to the shit that was killing them.”