April 5, 1974: Horror writer Stephen King’s novel “Carrie” is published. It is King’s fourth novel but the first to appear in print. The book and a subsequent movie of the same name make King world-famous.

King was born in Portland and raised mostly in Durham, although he also spent part of his childhood in Indiana and Connecticut. His early writing includes a weekly column for the Maine Campus, the newspaper of the University of Maine, where he graduated in 1970 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English; and “The Glass Floor,” a short story that was the first he sold for publication, to Startling Mystery Stories magazine, in 1967.

He met his wife, Tabitha, in UMaine’s Raymond H. Fogler Library, where they both worked as undergraduates.

King taught at Hampden Academy in Hampden until it became clear that his income from the anticipated sales of “Carrie” would allow him to work full time as a writer.

A torrent of commercially successful works follows, including the novels “The Shining,” “Misery,” “It,” “The Green Mile,” “Dolores Claiborne” and “The Dome”; and the novella “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.” Many of them are outside the horror genre.

Sales of his books, often set in a fictional Maine town, run into the hundreds of millions. Many of them undergo film or TV adaptation, including “Carrie,” which inspires three movies and a sequel; and “The Shawshank Redemption,” which USA Today listed in 2017 as one of the 50 best films of all time, and which has appeared on many other such lists.


His total novel count in early 2020 is 83, including seven written under a pseudonym, Richard Bachman. His books are best-sellers around the world.

“He may write too much, but his best work endures,” writes BBC culture reporter Jane Ciabattari in 2014. “He may be, at times, sophomoric, but he also can be superbly Gothic.”

King and his wife live in Bangor and Center Lovell during the warmer months and in Florida during the winter.

Joseph Owen is a retired copy desk chief of the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. He can be contacted at: jowen@mainetoday.com.

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