Stephen King

Photo: Pinguino Kolb / CC BY (

Nationality: American

Born: September 21, 1947

Age: 72 years

Born Place: Maine Medical Center, Portland, Maine, United States

Gender: Male

Spouse: Tabitha Spruce (m. 1971)


  • Horror
  • fantasy
  • supernatural fiction
  • drama
  • gothic
  • genre fiction
  • dark fantasy
  • post-apocalyptic fiction
  • crime fiction
  • suspense
  • thriller


Stephen Edwin King (born September 21, 1947) is an American author of horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, crime, science-fiction, and fantasy novels. His books have sold more than 350 million copies, and many have been adapted into films, television series, miniseries, and comic books. King has published 61 novels, including seven under the pen name Richard Bachman, and five non-fiction books. He has also written approximately 200 short stories, most of which have been published in book collections.

King has received Bram Stoker Awards, World Fantasy Awards, and British Fantasy Society Awards. In 2003, the National Book Foundation awarded him the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He has also received awards for his contribution to literature for his entire bibliography, such as the 2004 World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement and the 2007 Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. In 2015, he was awarded with a National Medal of Arts from the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts for his contributions to literature. He has been described as the “King of Horror”, a play on his surname and a reference to his high standing in pop culture.


Stephen Edwin King was born in Portland, Maine, on September 21, 1947. His father, Donald Edwin King, was a merchant seaman who was born with the surname Pollock but changed it to King as an adult. King’s mother was Nellie Ruth (née Pillsbury). His parents were married in Scarborough, Maine, on July 23, 1939. Shortly afterwards, they lived with Donald’s family in Chicago before moving to Croton-on-Hudson, New York. King’s parents returned to Maine towards the end of World War II, living in a modest house in Scarborough. When King was two years old, his father left the family. His mother raised him and his older brother David by herself, sometimes under great financial strain. They moved from Scarborough and depended on relatives in Chicago; Croton-on-Hudson; West De Pere, Wisconsin; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Malden, Massachusetts; and Stratford, Connecticut. When King was 11, his family moved to Durham, Maine, where his mother cared for her parents until their deaths. She then became a caregiver in a local residential facility for the mentally challenged. King was raised Methodist, but lost his belief in organized religion while in high school. While no longer religious, he says he chooses to believe in the existence of God.

As a child, King apparently witnessed one of his friends being struck and killed by a train, though he has no memory of the event. His family told him that after leaving home to play with the boy, King returned speechless and seemingly in shock. Only later did the family learn of the friend’s death. Some commentators have suggested that this event may have psychologically inspired some of King’s darker works, but King makes no mention of it in his memoir On Writing (2000). He related in detail his primary inspiration for writing horror fiction in his non-fiction Danse Macabre (1981), in a chapter titled “An Annoying Autobiographical Pause”. He compared his uncle’s dowsing for water using the bough of an apple branch with the sudden realization of what he wanted to do for a living. That inspiration occurred while browsing through an attic with his elder brother, when King uncovered a paperback version of an H. P. Lovecraft collection of short stories he remembers as The Lurker in the Shadows, that had belonged to his father. King told Barnes & Noble Studios during a 2009 interview, “I knew that I’d found home when I read that book.”

King attended Durham Elementary School and graduated from Lisbon Falls High School in Lisbon Falls, Maine, in 1966. He displayed an early interest in horror as an avid reader of EC horror comics, including Tales from the Crypt, and he later paid tribute to the comics in his screenplay for Creepshow. He began writing for fun while still in school, contributing articles to Dave’s Rag, the newspaper his brother published with a mimeograph machine, and later began selling stories to his friends based on movies he had seen (he was forced to return the profits though when discovered by his teachers). The first of his stories to be independently published was “I Was a Teenage Grave Robber”, which was serialized over four issues (three published and one unpublished) of a fanzine, Comics Review, in 1965. That story was published the following year in a revised form as “In a Half-World of Terror” in another fanzine, Stories of Suspense, edited by Marv Wolfman. As a teen, King also won a Scholastic Art and Writing Award.

From 1966, King studied at the University of Maine, graduating in 1970 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. That year, his daughter Naomi Rachel was born. He wrote a column, Steve King’s Garbage Truck, for the student newspaper, The Maine Campus, and participated in a writing workshop organized by Burton Hatlen. King held a variety of jobs to pay for his studies, including janitor, gas pump attendant, and worker at an industrial laundry. King met his future wife, fellow student Tabitha Spruce, at the University’s Fogler Library after one of Professor Hatlen’s workshops; they wed in 1971.


King married Tabitha Spruce on January 2, 1971. She too is a novelist and philanthropic activist. The couple own and divide their time between three houses: one in Bangor, Maine (set to become a museum and writer’s retreat); one in Lovell, Maine; and for the winter a waterfront mansion located off the Gulf of Mexico in Sarasota, Florida. The Kings have three children, a daughter and two sons, and four grandchildren. Their daughter Naomi is a Unitarian Universalist Church minister in Plantation, Florida, with her lesbian partner, Rev. Dr. Thandeka. Both of the Kings’ sons are authors: Owen King published his first collection of stories, We’re All in This Together: A Novella and Stories, in 2005. Joseph Hillstrom King, who writes as Joe Hill, published a collection of short stories, 20th Century Ghosts, in 2005. His debut novel, Heart-Shaped Box (2007), was optioned by Warners Bros.

In the early 1970s, King developed a drinking problem which would plague him for more than a decade. Soon after Carrie’s release in 1974, King’s mother died of uterine cancer; King has written of his severe drinking problem at this time, stating that he was drunk while delivering the eulogy at his mother’s funeral. King’s addictions to alcohol and other drugs were so serious during the 1980s that, as he acknowledged in On Writing in 2000, he can barely remember writing Cujo. Shortly after the novel’s publication, King’s family and friends staged an intervention, dumping on the rug in front of him evidence of his addictions taken from his office including beer cans, cigarette butts, grams of cocaine, Xanax, Valium, NyQuil, dextromethorphan (cough medicine) and marijuana. As King related in his memoir, he then sought help, quit all drugs (including alcohol) in the late 1980s, and has remained sober since. The first novel he wrote after becoming sober was Needful Things.


  • Alex Awards 2009: Just After Sunset
  • American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults
    • 1978: ‘Salem’s Lot
    • 1981: Firestarter
  • Balrog Awards 1980: Night Shift
  • Black Quill Awards 2009: Duma Key
  • Bram Stoker Award
    • 1987: Misery
    • 1990: Four Past Midnight
    • 1995: “Lunch at the Gotham Café”
    • 1996: The Green Mile
    • 1998: Bag of Bones
    • 2000: On Writing
    • 2000: “Riding the Bullet”
    • 2002: Lifetime Achievement Award
    • 2003: The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla
    • 2006: Lisey’s Story
    • 2008: Duma Key
    • 2008: Just After Sunset
    • 2010: Full Dark, No Stars
    • 2011: “Herman Wouk Is Still Alive”
    • 2013: Doctor Sleep
  • British Fantasy Award
    • 1981: Special Award
    • 1982: Cujo
    • 1983: “The Breathing Method”
    • 1987: It
    • 1999: Bag of Bones
    • 2005: The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower
  • Deutscher Phantastik Preis
    • 2000: Hearts in Atlantis
    • 2001: The Green Mile
    • 2003: Black House
    • 2004: International Author of the Year
    • 2005: The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower
  • Edgar Award for Best Novel
    • 2015: Mr. Mercedes
    • Horror Guild
      • 1997: Desperation
      • 2001: Riding the Bullet
      • 2001: On Writing
      • 2002: Black House
      • 2003: From a Buick 8
      • 2003: Everything’s Eventual
    • Hugo Award 1982: Danse Macabre
    • International Horror Guild Awards
      • 1999: Storm of the Century
      • 2003: Living Legend
    • Kono Mystery ga Sugoi! (The Best Translated Mystery Fiction of the Year in Japan)
      • 2014: 11/22/63
    • Los Angeles Times Book Prize
      • 2011: 11/22/63
    • Locus Awards
      • 1982: Danse Macabre
      • 1986: Skeleton Crew
      • 1997: Desperation
      • 1999: Bag of Bones
      • 2001: On Writing
    • Mystery Writers of America 2007: Grand Master Award
    • National Book Award 2003: Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters
    • National Magazine Awards
      • 2004: “Rest Stop”
      • 2013: “Batman and Robin Have an Altercation”
    • New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age 1982: Firestarter
    • O. Henry Award 1996: “The Man in the Black Suit”
    • Quill Award 2005: Faithful
    • Shirley Jackson Award 2009: “Morality”
    • Spokane Public Library Golden Pen Award 1986: Golden Pen Award
    • University of Maine 1980: Alumni Career Award
    • Us Magazine 1982: Best Fiction Writer of the Year
    • World Fantasy Award
      • 1980: Convention Award
      • 1982: “Do the Dead Sing?”
      • 1995: “The Man in the Black Suit”
      • 2004: Lifetime Achievement
    • World Horror Convention 1992: World Horror Grandmaster

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 4 July 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.

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