Stephen attended the grammar school in Durham and then Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. From his sophomore year at the University of Maine at Orono, he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, THE MAINE CAMPUS. He was also active in student politics, serving as a member of the Student Senate. He came to support the anti-war movement on the Orono campus, arriving at his stance from a conservative view that the war in Vietnam was unconstitutional. He graduated from the University of Maine at Orono in 1970, with a B.A. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level.
Stephen made his first short story sale to a mass-market men's magazine shortly after his graduation from the University. Throughout the early years of his marriage, he continued to sell stories to men's magazines. Many of these were later gathered into the Night Shift collection or appeared in other anthologies.
In the fall of 1971, Stephen began teaching high school English classes at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels.
In the spring of 1973, Doubleday & Co. accepted the novel Carrie for publication. On Mother's Day of that year, Stephen learned from his new editor at Doubleday, Bill Thompson, that a major paperback sale would provide him with the means to leave teaching and write full-time.
At the end of the summer of 1973, the Kings moved their growing family to southern Maine because of Stephen's mother's failing health. Renting a summer home on Sebago Lake in North Windham for the winter, Stephen wrote his next-published novel, originally titled Second Coming and then Jerusalem's Lot, before it became 'Salem's Lot, in a small room in the garage. During this period, Stephen's mother died of cancer, at the age of 59.
Carrie was published in the spring of 1974. That same fall, the Kings left Maine for Boulder, Colorado. They lived there for a little less than a year, during which Stephen wrote The Shining, set in Colorado. Returning to Maine in the summer of 1975, the Kings purchased a home in the Lakes Region of western Maine. At that house, Stephen finished writing The Stand, much of which also is set in Boulder. The Dead Zone was also written in Bridgton.
Because their children have become adults, Stephen and Tabitha now spend winters in Florida and the remainder of the year at their Bangor and Center Lovell homes.
The Kings have three children: Naomi Rachel, Joe Hill and Owen Phillip, and three grandchildren.
He has put some of his college dramatic society experience to use doing cameos in several of the film adaptations of his works as well as a bit part in a George Romero picture, Knightriders. Joe Hill King also appeared in Creepshow, which was released in 1982. Stephen made his directorial debut, as well as writing the screenplay, for the movie Maximum Overdrive (an adaptation of his short story "Trucks") in 1985.
Stephen and Tabitha provide scholarships for local high school students and contribute to many other local and national charities.