Stephen King’s Life, Work And Legacy
Stephen King has written many novels throughout his lifetime that bring horror lovers their sense of suspense. His name, Stephen King, is not an unknown name to anyone anywhere. We have all heard about his books and the movies made from his books. His books are written skillfully and the movies made are astonishing. He delivers that scare in his books and movies again and again. People absolutely love King and his work. His work just seems to get better and better as the years go on. Stephen King has produced so many books throughout his lifetime and is one of the best horror story writers.
The purpose of this paper is to provide more insight into King’s life, work, and legacy. I will explain his life leading up to his career, the criticism he has experienced, and a few of his own words.
Stephen King was born on September 21, 1947, in Portland, Maine. His mother made him and his brother read many books throughout his childhood. King was very interested in all the Horror, Science-Fiction, and Mystery books. He started writing on his own at a very young age and his mother encouraged him greatly. She believed he could write better material than the comic books he would read. King’s mother was his biggest encourager when he was younger. Even though King was influenced by many books he was also heavily influenced by many shows he watched when he was younger. Those shows include, “Big Town, Highway Patrol, Treasury Man in Action, Night Watch, The Untouchables, Racket Squad, Perry Mason, and the twilight zone. Stephen had spent considerable time watching those shows. He was particularly interested in those late-night ‘horror’ shows.”(medium.com). These shows along with all the books he read would influence him as he grew up and started to write more and more.
After graduating from high school King went to the University of Maine. He continued to write throughout college. Stephen King graduated from the University of Maine with an English degree in 1970. King continued to write after his graduation and sold his first book in 1973. He then met Tabitha Spruce whom he married. Stephen and Tabitha had three children together. Their names being Naomi, Joseph, and Joe. King and his wife still live in Maine to this day. Mr. King was born, raised, and continues to live in Maine.
There are many horror story writers so what makes King so great? Well, Stephen King started to write being very young and his breakthrough novel, “Carrie”, shook the world. King had the idea for “Carrie” while he was teaching high schoolers and wrote the first three pages. He thought it was a pathetic piece and crumbled it up. His wife Tabitha found it, smoothed it out, read it, and told Mr. King to finish it. “Carrie” sold about 15,000 copies which made King 200,000$. This was the breakthrough that King had been painfully waiting for. The breakthrough “Carrie” brought King to work on many more projects.
King has written a total of 95 books since the release of “Carrie”. King’s books have brought entertainment to people worldwide. His books build suspense throughout the whole book not just within a chapter. “34 Stephen King works have been turned into movies”(cheatsheet.com) over the past years. These books include, “IT: Chapter two”, “IT”, “The Shining”, “Misery”, “Dreamcatcher”, “Carrie”, and “Salem’s Lot”. All of these and the many other pieces that have been made into movies were spectacular. In 2020, “It Chapter Two has grossed $211.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $261.5 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $473.1 million.”(boxofficemojo.com). King has repeatedly given the world entertainment and suspense through his work. There is no doubt he will continue to do this either.
Stephen King has lived through many events during his lifetime. In “1979 the Malefaction at Three-Mile Island”(Baylorschool.org). “The Three Mile Island accident was a partial meltdown of reactor number 2 of Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station (TMI-2) in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg, and subsequent radiation leak that occurred on March 28, 1979.”(Wikipedia.org). The next major event that King lived through happened just a year later. In “1980, President Carter announced that the US Olympic athletes will not attend the summer Olympic Games.”(Baylorschool.org). This was because “ the Soviet Union failed to comply with Carter’s February 20, 1980, deadline to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.”(History.com). Another year later “President Reagan was elected”(Baylorschool.org). A few years passed and “President Clinton was elected”(Baylorschool.org). The final event King has lived through was in “2001, The 9/11 attacks take place”(Baylorschool.org) “The September 11 attacks (also referred to as 9/11) were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States” (Wikipedia.org). All of these events shaped King in a way and the rest of the United States.
With King being such a well-known author there is no doubt he has received his fair share of criticism. Now, there is nothing wrong with criticism in my opinion. Criticism can help you perfect your talent so you can produce even better work. Mr. King is mainly criticized for how he depicts women in his pieces. “Critic Chelsea Quinn Yarbo was first to lament that ‘It is disheartening when a writer with so much talent and strength of vision is not able to develop a believable woman character between the ages of seventeen and sixty” (American Writers, 147). Mary Pharr added on to what Chelsea Quinn Yarbo said by saying ‘“Despite his best efforts, King’s women are reflective of American stereotypes.His most convincing female characters are precisely those who are least threatening to men.’” (American Writers, 147). Karen Hohne then states his characters “Are never allowed to speak themselves, to make themselves with words. They get little dialogue, their speech is generally flat and undistinguished or stereotyped, or, worse, their language is distinctive but it is not their own; it is instead that of officiality, a set of languages from whose power they are excluded by their very being.” (American Writers, 147) This criticism has only made King more aware of what he needs to change to please his audience. He does not only receive bad criticism but also receives praise for his work.
There is no surprise at all that King has received praise for his writing. It has been stated that ‘King is still America’s dominant horror writer, but, for a while now, his wide-ranging, exploratory sensibility has felt at odds with the rest of the serious-horror landscape. His ideas have found themselves at home on television, where serial storytelling gives their outlandishness room to breathe.'(newyorker.com) People have praised him for his eye saying, ‘King has an extraordinary eye for the details of life(Newyorker.com). He has a way of seeing things and that shows through his writing. ‘King takes the weird and gives it weight. Anyone who reads King discovers that his novels contain many moments of expressive seriousness. King is an expert teller of these sorts of slightly scary tales that resonate across time. King’s success as a genre fantasist is obvious and undeniable—it’s absolutely central to who he is as a writer. His novels do offer a kind of authenticity (Newyorker.com). Many people, including myself, feel that King is capable of so much more and he has only scratched the surface. He has such a way of writing that no other author has been able to do. “King is undervaluing his own very particular gifts.’ (Newyorker.com). We may see even better work from King in the near future.
Stephen King has a way with words no doubt about it. His books have brought in a huge audience for him. Teenagers to adults have loved and enjoyed his books. The way he can tell a story is unlike any other. King has this ability to see things in a different light. Mr. King can build suspense throughout the whole book which is very hard to do. The more books he writes the better they get. Stephen King’s career took off with the release of “Carrie” which his wife urged him to continue writing. Without Tabitha urging him to continue, who knows what version of King we would have today. He had doubts about his writing and thought of giving up many times. Stephen King did not always believe he would be able to make it as a writer. He had many influences and many critics before he got where he is today.
Mr. King’s influence started at a young age. Stephen King’s mother made sure to read to him almost every day. Stephen at a young age was very interested in science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mystery books. King also watched many shows as a child which influenced how he would write later in life. Stephen King started to begin writing at a very young age. His early work was not very well written compared to his work now. “Carrie” was really his breakthrough piece of work. Once Stephen King released “Carrie” his career took off. Since then the world has been introduced to the Stephen King we know and love.
Stephen King is a very interesting and unique writer. He started from the bottom and worked his way up. It took a lot of motivation from his family and friends. Stephen King is one of those writers who inspire others to start. Stephen King is a unique writer who has a certain eye when it comes to seeing life. He gives the audience tons of entertainment for years. In conclusion, Stephen King is an iconic writer who will be around for ages.