Stephen King Biography: The Man Who Almost Didn't Become a Writer



the world outside of central Maine almost never got to know Stephen King if not for his wife's diligence and their confidence in her husband the book that launched a million pages might never have come into being when his wife Tabitha rescued the start of the manuscript of Carrie from the trash and insisted her husband finish it King was working as an English teacher and writing on the side Tabitha's judgment was absolutely right Carrie was a smash hit and Stephen King is now one of the world's most famous and prolific authors so what's the story behind the stories well let's dive into his life Stephen King was born in Portland Maine the largest city of the mostly rural state that services the setting for so many of his famous stories Stephen was the second son born to Nellie and Donald King but the family of four soon became a family of three when Stephen was only two years old and his brother only for their father went out telling the family he was buying a pack of cigarettes and he never returned Kings mother worked several jobs moving with the boys from Maine and going from state to state to find work and a place that she could afford to live and raise her two boys but Maine it was home and it's where the family eventually settled for good when the family moved back to Maine they didn't have indoor plumbing and this was the 1960s king's life growing up it was a far cry from the wealth that he has now but King didn't see his childhood as exceptional or out of the ordinary though he does acknowledge he's always liked scary things my childhood was pretty ordinary except from a very early age I wanted to be scared I just did I was scared afterward I wanted a light on because I was scared there was something in the closet my imagination was very active even at a young age some have said the king might also be inspired to write such horrifying stories by a childhood event he doesn't even remember according to mum I had gone off to play at a neighbor's house a house that was near a railroad line about an hour after I left I came back she said as wide as a ghost I would not speak for the rest of the day I would not tell her why I'd not waited to be picked up or phones that I wanted to come home I would not tell her why chums mum hadn't walked me back but it allowed me to come alone it turns out that the kid I had been playing with had been run over by a freight train while playing on or crossing the tracks years later my mother told me they'd picked up the pieces in a wicker basket as traumatic as that event must have been it was not the only explanation for Kings at vivid imagination friends of the Kings tell stories about how the family was well known for their attention to literature if their mother couldn't find or afford a babysitter should leave her sons alone with the expectation they would read aloud to each other Kings love of stories and the written word was fostered from an early age and of a tradition it's stuck King and his wife Tabitha also made their own children read aloud to each other and to them he'd even record them on cassettes to make the family their own collection of audiobooks growing up King also rent material for his brothers newsletter called Dave's rag they made copies on a mimeograph machine and distributed it to their friends but King was seen able to move me on just writing for his siblings newsletter in 1965 when he was still in high school King was published in comics review the story was right in line with the frightening plots that we all know King for today King had been working as a gravedigger and money as a teenager the job in Spartan to write a story called I was a teenage grave robber and its publication was his first taste of published success the only downside was that he didn't get paid for the work his first paid publication didn't come until he was in college and he earns $35 for a story called the glass floor King graduated from Lisbon falls high school the high school in the town that later became the setting for portions of the book 11/22/63 Lisbon Falls was a mill town and King spent time working in the town's mill when he was a teenager after graduation King had aspirations to be a writer so he headed north to the University of Maine Orono to earn a degree in English literature while in college King was a columnist for the college paper was outspoken against the Vietnam War and worked in the college library that same library is now home to many of Kings papers it's also where he met his wife Tabitha was looking for a book in the stacks and King passed by and struck up a conversation with her and four years later the literary couple had graduated had a daughter and they were married voguing had been writing in college he was far from being able to support himself and a growing family just by writing he Tabitha and their daughter Naomi were living in a trailer outside of Bangor and King was working two jobs he was teaching English at Hampton Academy and in the summers was pumping gas at the local station while also working shifts at a laundromat Tabitha took shifts at a Dunkin Donuts and they struggled to get by but King always made time to write even in the cramped quarters of the family's trailer he made a point to set aside space for a writing desk and a typewriter 2,000 words a day was his goal and that's a goal that he stands by today eventually King earned teaching certificates and was able to put his college education to use as a teacher at Hampton Academy the work still wasn't what he wanted to be doing though it was writing that he loved and writing that he wanted to earn a living from writing simply has always been his purpose in life as he explains there was nothing else I was made to do I was made to write stories and I love to write stories that's why I do it I really can't imagine doing anything else and I can't imagine not doing what I do though it took years of effort his big break did come after tabatha fished the beginning of carry out of the trash in 1973 King finished the book and sent it off to a publisher he wasn't confident about its chances of being published saying my considered opinion was that I had written the world's all-time loser the family wasn't doing well financially when he sent carrion and they couldn't even afford a phone so he got the news via telegram he'd be receiving a $2,500 advance and Doubleday would be publishing Carrie then even better news came the paperback rights were sold for hundred thousand dollars and with that king could quit teaching and begin writing full-time and his family would be better off than they had ever dared to imagine the book it was an absolute smash hit within the next year a million copies were sold and only three years later it was made into an Academy Award winning movie Stephen King was now officially a writer and an American celebrity but success did not mean the king settled into a completely untroubled life as he kept writing cranking out books like misery and Pet Sematary he was drinking heavily and he knew he had a problem King later told Rolling Stone nobody in the house drank but me my wife would have a glass of wine and that was all so I went into the garage one night in the trash can that was set aside for beer cans was full to the top it had been empty the week before I was drinking like a case of beer a night and I thought I'm an alcoholic that was probably 78 79 I thought I've got to be really careful because if somebody says you're drinking too much you have to quit I won't be able to he knew he had a problem but he didn't stop drinking in fact he took it one step further in the late 70s King started doing cocaine using it at night while he was writing by this time he and Tabitha had three kids and he knew his addictions were taking a toll both on his family and on his writing he attributes the length of Tommyknockers to cocaine and looking back as said the book could have been half the length if so much of it had have been inspired purely by his drugged up energy he has also said that he doesn't even remember writing Cujo so bad was his consumption of alcohol and drugs during the 80s he said there's one novel who joked that I barely remember writing at all I don't say that with pride or shame only with a vague sense of sorrow loss I like that book I wish I could remember enjoying the good parts as they put them down on the page indeed The Shining and misery both carry an undercurrent of his reference to his struggles Jack Torrance is an alcoholic in the shining and King has describes the antagonist of misery as essentially the personification of cocaine it wasn't until the late 80s when tabatha threatened to leave him and the family staged a dramatic intervention that King cleaned up his act at the intervention his family displayed drug paraphernalia rent pills that they had collected from the trash gang with the magnitude of his problem laid out in front of his eyes and in front of his family and friends made the decision to get sober now he's been sober for nearly three decades during the 1990s and into the 21st century King continued to be one of the world's most prolific and well-known writers his book spawned movies and miniseries and over 350 million copies of his books have been sold after he became so popular King took the step of publishing under a pseudonym Richard Bachman he wanted to see if he could still get books published and have them sell without his now-famous name splashed across the front turns out well he totally could the first book he published under the name Richard Bachman was range set in Kings familiar world of Maine High School the book tells the story of a teenager who engages in violent acts at his school he sets his locker on fire shoots his algebra teacher and attacks another students with a wrench in 1977 it was a figment of Kings imagination but in the late 80s and 1990s the book unfortunately started to resemble actual occurrences at schools across the United States in 1997 after a student shot eight people at a prayer meeting in Kentucky it was discovered that he had a copy of rage in his locker disturbed by this King asked his publisher to take the book out of print to this day rage remains out of print even as his success grew King remains living in Maine the family owns a home in Bangor and a home in Louisville near the lakes for the summer it was never home in Louisville that King's life almost ended in 1999 King was taking a walk along one of the winding wooded roads that are so familiar a part of Maine's landscape then a van smashed into him from behind King was knocked off the roads and into a ditch witnesses said he was in a heap and it was clear his leg was broken his glasses flew off and landed in the van that hit him at the hospital he underwent multiple surgeries and had to do physical therapy as a part of his recovery Bryan Smith the driver who hit King had a track record of driving infractions including a DUI the King accident was blamed on Smith his dog distracting him causing him to swerve into the author Smith received a six-month jail sentence that was later suspended and had his license revoked for a year King was pretty upset at this he wanted Smith's license revoked for life given his history of bad driving only a year after the accident Smith was found dead in his trailer at the age of 43 he died of a painkiller overdose and in the twist of fate that seemed straight out of a king novel he died on King's birthday September the 21st King sustained horrific injuries in the accident but resumed writing only a month after being released from the hospital he finished the highly regarded on writing and in 2000 the book was published but by 2002 King decided that he simply didn't have the strength to keep writing as he had in the past where he had previously sat in typed for hours at a time it now hurt him to sit for long periods addiction had also become a part of his life again after the accident he took oxycontin to deal with the pain from his injuries and he became addicted to it as he had the decade earlier he was able to overcome the addiction and to live life once again soberly but the lure of the written word and it ultimately proved too strong for his post accident injuries and struggles and so King returned to his craft he is said that he literally needs to write in order to live and what would happen if he didn't write oh I'd be dead I would have drunk myself to death or drugged myself to death or committed suicide or some goddamn thing well since his accident he's published dozens of stories and books including mr. Mercedes do Mackey 11/22/63 and under the dome a diehard Red Sox fan like so many of his New England neighbors Stephen King also co-wrote a book after the Red Sox 2004 World Series win faithful to diehard Boston Red Sox fans Chronicle the historic 2004 season shared the story of the emotional roller coaster King and so many other Red Sox fans rode throughout the summer and fall of 2004 in a further display of his eclectic interests and abilities King demelza music he played guitar for The Rock Bottom Remainders Ave and use other members you might recognize – Amy tan Dave Barry and Matt Groening are only a few of the other celebrities who join King on stage even actually co-wrote a musical with John Mellencamp billed as a Southern gothic supernatural musical ghost brothers of darkened County opens and ran for a month at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta King is now 70 years old but he hasn't run out of ideas in fact he and his son Owen just released a co-written book in 2017 King well he's incredibly wealthy he writes and sells books at a breathtaking pace but he doesn't use his wealth to amass stuff in Tabitha owned three houses – in Maine and one in Florida it's the house in Maine that is the most iconic located in Bangor it's a huge old Victorian surrounded by a wrought iron fence decorated with bats from the outside the house is exactly where one would expect Stephen King to live on the inside it has an indoor swimming pool and a huge underground library the houses are extravagant by everyday standards but they really are the primary way King prefers to spend money on himself and Tabitha I'm not too close this person I'm not a boat person we do have a house in Florida but we live in Maine for Christ's sake it's not like a trendy community or anything his houses are beautiful but they don't use all of his money so well what does he do with it all well he gives it away mostly more he invested in projects that support his interests and his community a music fan King has also purchased radio stations in Maine a huge baseball fan he funded the construction of a Little League field in Bangor the field is now known as the field of screens a tip of the hat to the fields Thunder together he and Tabitha run the Steven and Tabitha King foundation libraries and colleges especially the University of Maine and the Bangor Public Library have benefited from Kings philanthropy Maine's Historical Society's fire departments arts organizations and hospitals have also been beneficiaries of the Kings in a 2001 speech at Vassar College King made his view on generosity and charity clear to his audience should you give away what you have of course you should I want you to consider making your lives one long gift to others and why not all you have is on loan anyway all you want to get at the gettin place from the Maserati you may dream about the retirement fund some broker will try to sell you on none of that is real all that lasts is what you pass on the rest is smoke and mirrors in that same speech he discussed Natural Resources and his dislike of the George W Bush administration with the advent of Twitter in the years to follow King has an even wider audience to share his political views with he's taken on president Trump our Twitter announcing that the president wasn't allowed to see the new version of it when it hit theaters in 2017 he's also made clear in very profane language and we repeated here what he thinks of the president and his administration Stephen King is a national figure in his own right for 30 years he's been affecting the conversation around pop culture his books sell by the millions and his movies rake in millions of dollars and win Academy Awards growing up he knew he wanted to write but he never wanted to do it to achieve the wealth and fame he's now amassed his reasoning is much simpler and it remains his mantra to this day writing isn't about making money getting famous getting dates getting laid or making friends in the end it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work and enriching your own life as well for over three decades from his home tucked away in the northeast corner of the United States Stephen King has been able to live out his childhood dream to write for a living in doing so he's brought many of us nightmares but their nightmares the world gladly welcomes as we continue to delve into his stories so I really hope you found that video interesting if you did please do hit that thumbs up button below and do not forget to subscribe for brand new videos just like this every day of the week also over there on the right check out some of our stuff from the archives are the great people that you might want to watch biographies of and as always thank you for watching

23 thoughts on “Stephen King Biography: The Man Who Almost Didn't Become a Writer

  1. Want to choose what bio we make a video about? Go here and vote: http://biographics.org/you-choose-the-biography/ – We pick the top vote-getter each month to add to biograhpics!

  2. I've been reading King since 1977, when I picked up a book with the title 'Carrie' on the front of it. Little did I know, in that little town of White River, Ontario, that it would be the start of my addiction. I think I now have about 15 feet of space on my shelves taken up by his publications, and they are the most magical, and cherished 15 feet I have. If I want to go somewhere else for a week, or two, I just need to pick one of them up, open the cover, and I'm in another place and time. Thank you Mr. King.

  3. The elimination of pauses to take a natural breath make these clips sound robotic with content much like that of processed food….

  4. Tabitha always has extreme resting bitch face in pictures, but I'm sure she's actually a really nice woman lol

  5. I'm binge watching this channel, fell in love with the content. Also, Simon is great on his craft. I wonder if he have ever thought on using his talented voice for audiobooks? 😃

  6. As a Maine native and resident, the word around Maine is, the man who hit him w/ a van was killed by a curse put on him by King's wife Tabitha…Ironic that the guy died on King's birthday??? If true …that is one hell of a gift to get on your B-day!!

  7. I have a book with 3 or 4 short stories and one of them is RAGE…I will never get rid of it now!!! It's one that I got from goodwill. Written under his alias.

  8. Thanks for your videos. I just think Stephen King is one of the reasons that America is known for crap pop culture. The Shining was okay, but that was the movie directed by Kubrick and with Jack Nicholson starring in it. Other than that I have no idea what Mr. King does, writes or whatever. Too bad that Americans have such bad taste. I am an American and I love great art and literature and I consider Nathaniel Hawthorne to be the best American writer ever. Talk about scary.

  9. I love the cameo appearances in King’s movies! My favorite is the role of Teddy in The Stand. Reading the books first makes the movies more enjoyable.

  10. In my egocentrism I thought that simon et al had published this because i had pirated a horrific line from a Stephen King book when cannibalism of simon's self was the cheery theme. "Lady fingers… lady fingers" typed I. Now i've seen this was put out years and years ago. Oh well.

  11. I've been a lifelong reader of King's work. It is the only book that actually scared me. I would leave my closet open sure that It was lying in wait.

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