Stephen King

On this date in 1947, best-selling suspense novelist Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine. King’s parents split when he was a toddler, and he and his older brother were raised by their mother, who struggled financially. Though he grew up attending a Methodist church, his doubts about organized religion began at an early age. In a 2013 interview with National Public Radio on whether he believed in God, King said “the jury’s out on that,” adding that while at the moment he chose to believe, he reserved the right to change his mind. 

He sold “The Glass Floor,” his first professional short story, to Startling Mystery Stories in 1967. He attended the University of Maine at Orono and wrote a weekly column for the school paper, served as a member of the Student Senate, opposed the Vietnam War and graduated in 1970 with a B.A. in English. In 1971 he married Tabitha Spruce, whom he met while working at a library. King taught English at Hampden Academy in Hampden, Maine, and pursued his writing in the evenings and on the weekends. King’s first novel, Carrie, was accepted by Doubleday & Co. in 1973. Due to its success, he was able to leave his teaching job and write full time.

King has published 60 novels, including seven under the pen name Richard Bachman, and five nonfiction works. He has written over 200 short stories, most of which have been compiled in book collections. His books have sold more than 350 million copies, and many of them have been adapted into feature films, TV movies and comic books. Many of his books contain overt religious themes, which prompted America’s Dark Theologian: The Religious Imagination of Stephen King (2018), by Douglas E. Cowan.

King and his wife, also a novelist and philanthropist, annually give away about $4 million to libraries, fire departments, schools and organizations supporting the arts. They have a daughter, Naomi, who is a Unitarian Universalist minister in Florida, as is her domestic partner Thandeka, whose name means “beloved” and was given her by Bishop Desmond Tutu. Their sons, Owen and Joseph, are both writers.

King in 2007. Pinguino Kolb photo, Creative Commons.

Freedom From Religion Foundation