Without a doubt, Stephen King is the most iconic horror writer today, and has been since the 1970s when his first novel, Carrie, was published and became an instant classic.
Born in 1947 in Portland Maine, King’s early life was deeply affected when his father went out for cigarettes and never came back. King was only two at the time. His mother Ruth moved her two sons, Stephen and David, from Maine to Fort Wayne, Indiana and Stratford, Connecticut before returning to Maine and settling down in Durham when King was eleven.
King was an indifferent student, but he developed a passion for reading and storytelling early on. At the age of twelve, he and his brother started their own paper, called Dave’s Rag. In High School, he and his best friend published a volume of short stories, and in 1964, he started his own publishing company and printed a novel called The Star Invaders. In 1965, his first actual sale was the short story I was a Teenage Grave Robber, which appeared in Comics Review.
He won a scholarship to the University of Maine, where he received a BA in English and met his wife Tabitha, whom he married in 1971. They had three children in the next six years, and he supported the family by working in a laundry and then teaching high school English. Throughout this time he was always writing, and he was able to quit teaching and devote himself full-time to writing by 1973. Carrie was published the following year.
Since then, King has written dozens of novels and more than a hundred short stories, many of which have been adapted as films and television shows. Among his most famous works are The Shining, IT, and Pet Sematary. He encourages young film-makers to use his stories to help develop their skills through the Dollar Babies program, which allows film students to buy the rights to selected works for one dollar.
King finds the inspiration for his horror tales in ordinary life, saying, “So whether you talk about ghosts or vampires or Nazi war criminals living down the block, we’re still talking about the same thing, which is an intrusion of the extraordinary into ordinary life and how we deal with it.” (Lehmann-Haupt, C., & Rich, N. (2006). “Stephen King, The Art of Fiction No. 189.” The Paris Review (178).)