The master horror writer has turned 70, writes Seán Hall
In the city of Portland, Maine, on 21st September seventy years ago, Donald Edwin King, a merchant seaman from Indiana, and his wife, Nellie Pillsbury, welcomed a child they dubbed ‘Stephen’ upon his entrance to the world.
Donald would not be a fixture in young Stephen’s life for long, however, leaving to purchase a ‘pack of cigarettes’ in 1949, according to his son, and never returning. Stephen and his elder brother, David, were reared singlehandedly by Nellie from that point on.
Stephen’s most traumatic childhood experience was witnessing a childhood friend of his being run over by a train, an event he repressed and only his 1991 biographer, George Beahm, managed to unearth from interviewing his relatives. Stephen made no mention of it in his memoir On Writing, published eleven years later, in 2002.
Since Stephen King would become a household name synonymous with horror in the decades to come, perhaps this experience left a scar on the young boy which influenced his imagination, if not his memory.
After a spate of short story publications, Stephen King would publish his first novel, Carrie, in 1974. The book was a great success and would be adapted two years later into a film of the same name, starring Sissy Spacek as the title character. The success of the novel and the film started a career for the young King, who would go on to write over sixty novels.
In 1970, aged 23, King became a father to Naomi King with his girlfriend Tabitha Spruce, who he married the next year.