Carrie was actually King’s fourth novel, but it was the first one to be published in 1974. It was written while he was living in a trailer, on a portable typewriter that belonged to his wife Tabitha. It began as a short story intended for Cavalier magazine, but King tossed the first three pages of his work in the garbage can.
His wife fished the pages out of the garbage can and encouraged him to finish the story, saying that she would help him with the female perspective; he followed her advice and expanded it into a novel. King said, “I persisted because I was dry and had no better ideas… my considered opinion was that I had written the world’s all-time loser.”
The full photo was already a popular poster around campus, so the University of Maine students would have been familiar with it. This poster still hangs around campus.
The cover illustration is a now-famous photograph of a long-haired Stephen King with a crazed expression on his face, a double-barreled shotgun pointed at the reader, and the caption exhortation “Study, Dammit!!”
The character of Carrie White is based on a composite of two girls Stephen King observed while attending grade school and high school. According to one biography of King, later the girl “married a man who was as odd as her, had kids, and eventually killed herself.”
At the time of publication, King was working as a high school English teacher at Hampden Academy. To cut down on expenses, King had the phone company remove the telephone from his house. As a result, when King received word that the book was chosen for publication, his phone was out of service. Doubleday editor William Thompson – who would eventually become King’s close friend – sent a telegram to King’s house which read: “Carrie Officially A Doubleday Book. $2,500 Advance Against Royalties. Congrats, Kid – The Future Lies Ahead, Bill.”
|An article about Stephen King’s debut novel on a newspaper from 1974.|
According to King, he bought a new Ford Pinto with the money from the advance. Then, on Mother’s Day, May 13, 1973, just a month or so later, New American Library bought the paperback rights for $400,000, which, according to King’s contract with Doubleday, was split between them. King eventually resigned from the teaching job after receiving the publishing payment. The hardback sold a mere 13,000 copies; the paperback, released a year later, sold over 1 million copies in its first year.