Danse Macabre and IT, Two Sides of the Same Coin

King wrote the first draft of IT between August 1980 and June 1981. Before putting the first sheet into his typewriter he had been developing his ideas for IT for about five years, as he told The Bangor Daily News in July 1980.​1​ King did not take notes or write outlines or character studies beforehand; all that work went on in his head.

Another project, begun in 1978, heavily stimulated his preparatory thinking about IT, so much so that the two texts can be seen as two sides of the same coin. The project became King’s first novel-length work of nonfiction, Danse Macabre, published in April 1981 by Everest House. He wrote the first draft in 1979, did an extensive rewrite of the text in the spring of 1980 in preparation of submission, and turned his attention to IT immediately afterwards.

Continue reading Danse Macabre and IT, Two Sides of the Same Coin

An Appreciation of Chuck Verrill

I’ve been writing about Chuck Verrill’s work as the editor of IT these past weeks in my PhD, so I thought I’d take the time to express my appreciation here for Stephen King’s long-time editor, agent, and friend. Verrill passed away a little over a year ago, on the 9th of January 2022.

King first met Verrill as the assistant to Alan Williams, King’s first editor at Viking, who edited The Dead Zone (1979), Firestarter (1980), Cujo (1981), Different Seasons (1982), Christine (1983), and The Talisman (1984), before leaving Viking for Putnam. Williams’ exit meant a promotion for Verrill at Viking, and I believe IT might have been the first King novel that Verrill edited—the first of many.

Continue reading An Appreciation of Chuck Verrill

The Dutch Translation of IT: “The Rape of Stephen King”

Continuing on from my previous post about the German translation, I turn now to another translation that wasn’t based on the published text of IT, but on an earlier draft version: the Dutch translation HET. Het was published in October 1986, just one month after the UK and US first editions. As with the German ES, the same issue of timing presents itself here—how was the translation work done in so little time, if King himself only finished the novel on 28 December 1985, as it says at the back of the book?

ES and HET are similar in that they were both translated from photocopies of drafts, but different in an interesting way: ES made use of King’s first draft, while HET started from King’s second draft. In both cases the translators did a quick update of their texts after the arrival on their desks of a copy of the unedited third draft text in early 1986. While it was presumed that the German translator had abridged IT in her translation, the text is actually a faithful and complete translation of the first draft, which happened to be significantly shorter than the published text; but in the case of HET the translator did drastically abridge the text of the second draft, cutting it by about half. So much so that one Dutch-language reviewer at the time called HET “the rape of Stephen King”.

Continue reading The Dutch Translation of IT: “The Rape of Stephen King”

The First German Edition of IT Was a Translation of King’s First Draft

It is a truth universally acknowledged by Stephen King collectors that the US/UK trade editions were not the “World First Edition” of IT (publication date: 15 September 1986), that honor went to the famous German “Bootleg” limited edition of ES by Edition Phantasia which was shipped out in May 1986. On the last page of IT, King wrote the date on which he finished the novel, 28 December 1985. You might ask yourself: how can anyone translate a 1000+ page novel into another language in just two or three months? The answer is simple: you can’t—not even with German efficiency. The fact is that the German translation that was published that May was a translation of the first draft of IT, instead of King’s third and final draft, which he finished in late December 1985—a text which underwent even more changes during the editing and proofing process at Viking in the first months of 1986.

Continue reading The First German Edition of IT Was a Translation of King’s First Draft

Guest Lecture at the University of Oxford

On 31 October Vincent will give a guest lecture about the project at the English department of the University of Oxford:

Stephen King’s IT From First Draft to First Edition: A Look at the Many Documents Produced Along the Way

Stephen King’s horror epic IT was originally published in the USA in September 1986 as a beautiful hardback trade edition with artwork by Bob Giusti gracing the cover. Six years earlier, King “cranked up some rock ‘n’ roll” in his office, rolled a sheet of blue paper into his IBM Selectric typewriter, and wrote the novel’s opening sentence. In my lecture I will describe “how IT happened” during those six years. I will focus primarily on the many documents that were produced along the way in both the writing and the publication process: original typescript and manuscript pages, photocopies for proofreaders, correspondence, floppy disks, printouts, in-house publisher’s photocopies, photocopies for the sale of rights, unbound and bound page proofs, printer’s galleys, preliminary concept sketches for the artwork, point-of-sale promotional items, review copies, and so on. Most of these items are in King’s archive and in private collections, some, unfortunately, are unaccounted for and may be lost, or in a dark attic somewhere.

More info at: https://octet.web.ox.ac.uk/event/stephen-kings-it-first-draft-first-edition-look-many-documents-produced-along-way

Pennywise's First Public Appearance

Pennywise’s First Public Appearance was in 1980

The first ever public appearance of Pennywise the Dancing Clown was on the evening of the eleventh of November, 1980, six years before the publication of IT. David Morrell, the author of First Blood (1972) and professor of American Literature at the University of Iowa (UI) at the time, had invited King to speak and read at the Macbride Auditorium in Iowa City.​*​

Continue reading Pennywise’s First Public Appearance was in 1980

A Collector’s Guide to Stephen King Manuscripts, Galleys, Proofs and ARCs

This two-part video offers a (brief) collector’s guide to Stephen King manuscripts, galleys, proofs and ARCs. They can take many forms: from an original “idea notebook” handwritten by King, to a review copy that is identical to the first edition book except for a publisher’s sticker or stamp and the letter from the editor that came with it.

In this video I hope to introduce the many types of documents produced during the writing and publication process of the work of a best-selling author, that inevitably sometimes make their way onto the collector’s market. The first part deals with manuscripts.

Part two of the guide is about the sometimes confusing world of proofs, galleys and ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) and takes IT as a running example.

Stephen King and his Proofreaders

Who are the lucky people that get to read Stephen King’s first drafts of his novels? Here’s a look at some of the main people that King has relied on throughout his long career to proofread his manuscripts, going all the way back to his student days: Burt Hatlen, Susan Artz, Tabitha Spruce King, George Everett McCutcheon, Russ Dorr, Owen King and Joe Hill.

I tried my best to credit the photographers in as many of the photos I used as possible.