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Man Behind The Horror
Controlling Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to, in extensive detail, give you the faithful reader an understanding of one of the world’s most prolific writers. There is a lot more to Stephen King then numerous best selling books and hit movies. He is a true genius in every sense of the word, and I rank him amongst the greatest writers of all time. I feel I can give my opinion on him so freely and bluntly because I have read every published work he was ever had, and most of them I consider to be classics. In the end I hope to show you the true brilliance of Stephen King, and hopefully give you an insightful look at his past history.
I. The Life of Stephen King
A. Early Years to His First Book
B. The Books that made him Famous
C. Facts and Tidbits about Stephen King
II. Stephen King: The Man and His Works in My Words
A. The Writer’s Opinion on Mr. King
B. A Review of the Novels
The Life of Stephen King
A. Early Years to his First
Born in 1947, Stephen Edwin King was the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. When he was very young his parents were separated, so he and his older brother, David were raised by their mother. In his childhood he spent time Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father’s family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. As a child Stephen and his brother made frequent visits to his mother’s family in Malden, Massachusetts and the small town of Pownal, Maine.
At the young age of eleven, his mother moved him and his brother back to Durham, Maine, this time for good. She did so because her parents had become debilitated with old age, and Ruth had been convinced by her siblings to assume the care of the elderly couple. Other members of the family contributed money and support while others pitched together to supply her with a small house in Durham. When Stephen’s grandparents passed on, his mother found work in Pineland, which was a nearby place for retarded people.
King attended grammar school in Durham and then high school in Lisbon Falls High School, from where King graduated in 1966. He attended college at the University of Maine in Orono, and in his sophomore year he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, The Maine Campus.
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He graduated from college in 1970 with a B.S. in English and to this day is qualified to teach high school English. When the army looked at him a draft board examination that was taken right after graduation found him “4-F” because he had high blood pressure, limited vision, flat feet, and to top that all off he had a pair of punctured ear drums to boot. In the winter of 1971 he married a woman by the name of Tabitha Spruce.
They met in the Fogler Library at the University of Maine, where they were both employed as students. At first Stephen was unable to find work as a teacher so they had to live off his earnings as a laborer and her student loan and savings. Every now and again they would get a little extra money from a short story sale to a magazine.
He made his first short story sale to a “men’s” magazine very shortly after graduation. In the beginning of his marriage to Tabitha he continued to sell short stories to magazines. Later on some of these would be brought into a collection of short stories called Night Shift or other such short story novellas, like Skeleton Crew, of Nightmares and Dreamscapes.
In 1971, Stephen got a teaching position at Hampden Academy. He taught English Classes. But he continued to produce short stories, and begin writing novels in his evenings and weekends. I imagine this was the time he finished writing the book that would make him famous.
Carrie. It was the spring of 1973 when Doubleday and Co. took the novel known as Carrie for publication. On Mother’s day of that very year his new editor,
Bill Thompson, told him that his major paperback sale would get him a way to leave teaching and to become a full time writer.
B. The Books The Made him Famous
What follows is more on Stephens Kings life. But now we will see mention of the books that got him started and have had a lot to do with the success of Stephen King. So we pick things up still in the year 1973. After living in or around Bangor, Maine, since their marriage, the Kings decided to move to southern Maine because of the ill condition of Stephen’s mother at the end of the summer of 1973. They ended up having to rent a summer home on Sebago Lake near North Windham for the winter. There Stephen wrote his second novel. Originally it was titled THE SECOND COMING, and then he changed it to JERUSALEM’S LOT. That didn’t stick either, but finally he decided to call it SALEM’S LOT. He wrote it in the garage of his summer home. Also during this time his mother died at the age of 59 due to cancer.
While Doubleday had accepted Carrie in 1973 it didn’t get published until the fall of 1974. During that fall, the Kings left Maine for Boulder, Colorado. Boulder would play an important role in many of King’s books. While there Stephen wrote THE SHINING, set in Colorado. Also King had a good part of THE STAND happen right on Boulder Colorado. In 1975 the Kings returned to Maine, and they purchased a home in the Lakes Region of western Maine. At this house Stephen would complete THE STAND and another novel called THE DEAD ZONE.
In 1977, the Kings went on a three-month stay in England, and returned home in mid-December. They bought a home in Center Lovell, Maine. They had lived there one summer when they decided to move north to Orrington, which is near Bangor, so Stephen could teach a creative writing class at his old college, Maine. They retained the Center Lovell house as a summer home later on.
Stephen and Tabitha have been blessed with three children: Naomi Rachel, Joe Hill, and Owen Phillip.
Stephen himself is of a Scots-Irish line. He is six feet four inches tall and weighs close to 200 hundred pounds. At least he was. He weighs considerably less since his accident and multiple surgeries. King is blue eyed, has fair skin, and has raven black hair. He has a bit of white in his beard when he chooses to grow one. He usually grows one between the end of the World Series and the first pitch in grapefruit league competition. On rare occasions he wears a mustache in other seasons of play. King has worn glasses ever since he was a child.
C. Facts and Tidbits about Stephen King
- When Stephen King was three years old his father went out for cigarettes and
never came back.
- When he was seven years old he had already written his first short story. He was
also a junkie of 50’s horror movies.
- When he was a teenager he did normal teenager things. He played football on the
team, had his own rock band, and in that time had two of his short stories
- Tabitha King, also a writer, and Stephen were married the same year that Stephen
graduated from college. He found work as an English teacher.
- His first novel, CARRIE, would never have seen publication if Stephen’s wife
hadn’t have dug the manuscript out of the trash.
- Stephen King is today’s most successful writer. He has sold over a hundred
million copies of his works and grows each year with his new releases.
- He is also the world’s richest writer, making more then eighty-four million
dollars in 1996 alone.
- Even though King has enjoyed unparallel success he lives with his family in the
small town of Bangor, Maine. He takes out two hundred dollars a week for
spending money, and in his free time bowls, plays poker, and playing with his
friends in the band “Rock Bottom Reminders”.
- It is a given that most of Stephen Kings novels will turn into movies. Some have
been critical failures on the big screen, but none have ever lost money. The
Shawshank Redemption a box office hit and received seven emmy nominations. The
Green Mile is his most recent novel to be turned into a book.
II. The Man in my Words
A. My Opinion on Stephen King
If you haven’t already guessed my opinion on King himself, then allow me to be clear. I see him has nothing less then a true genius. King has created many worlds with his writings and I have become engrossed with many of them. It takes a certain kind of man to bring joy to another person’s life through writing. Unselfishly he shares his gift with the rest of the world. He lets us see, not as he sees it mind you, but never the less he lets us he into his many literary worlds. That’s really enough for me.
I challenge anyone to read The Stand and not become spellbound by the epic tale he creates through a book that many of his fans consider his best. I also ask anyone to read The Green Mile and not shed some tears when Del or John Coffey are executed, and the situations that are presented in each case. I could go on and on but I’ll save my reviews for my favorite novels and other works of his for the next section.
But I honestly think that if I had never read a Stephen King novel that my life would have a hole in it. A hole that if it was here would result in me being not as intelligence as I am, and not being as big as a reader that I am today. Someday I hope to write Stephen King a letter explaining this all to him. I’m sure he’s heard this from countless people before, but I think I’d be doing it more for me anyway. Well onward to the final section. My two favorite works at a glance.
B. Kings novels at a glance
I, like any other King fan, have my favorite books. Below will be a quick glance at the ones that I found most inspiring and worthwhile in the long run of things.
The Dark Tower Saga
So far the Dark Tower series is composed of 4 books. Every one of them feature Roland, a gunslinger, as the main character. Roland is a strong man with a very strong sense of nobility. His one flaw is that he will do anything to get to his bane, The Dark Tower. The Dark Tower is a nexus that connects all worlds and times. You can reach the Tower along one of the Path of Beams, each guarded by one of the thirteen great guardians. On Roland’s quest he is faced with many tough choices. Every time he chooses the Tower. When given the choice of saving his symbolic son, Jake Chambers, or continuing on to find The Man in Black and his Tower, he chooses the latter.
The Saga is far to deep and long for me to go into. But currently after confronting Randall Flagg, the “bad guy”, Roland, Eddie, Susie, and Jake (He was resurrected, but not in the way you think) along with Jake’s Billy Bumbler Oy continue along the path of beam in search of the Dark Tower.
The Stand is your classic good vs. evil book. After the World is devastated by the Superflu (a military born virus) only a handful of people are left to defend the world against the likes of Randy Flagg (Yes the same man from the Dark Tower). The forces of good are led by Stu Redman, Larry Underwood, Glen Bateman, Nick Andros, Ralph Bretner, Fran Goldsmith, and of course Mother Abagail.
The forces of evil are led by “The Tall Man”, “The Ageless Stranger”, Randall Flagg. It should be noted that Flagg is not human…He is in fact a demon who haunts all worlds and has played key roles in many Stephen King novels. On the side of evil are Lloyd Henreid, Nadine Cross, The Trashcan Man, and the entire city of Las Vegas.
In the end 4 men: Stu, Larry, Ralph, and Glen preveil…but at a cost. I won’t ruin the ending, in the event that you’ve never read the book.