This Day In History: April 5

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On April 5, 1974, Stephen King, a Maine high school teacher who had been writing on evenings and weekends, sees his first full-length novel, Carrie, published. The release by Doubleday & Co. becomes a bestseller and inspires a movie of the same name. For King, Carrie kicks off a phenomenal writing career, one in which he would come to be known worldwide as the Master of Horror.

In a chilling story that warns readers about picking on outcasts, lead character Carrie White, a high school student, discovers that she has telekinetic powers. Her classmates torment Carrie with bullying, and her ultra-religious and controlling mother represses the teenager. This tension culminates in a frightening, bloody showdown at her school prom—where Carrie, the victim of a cruel prank, uses her powers to get revenge on her peers.

In the spring of 1973, when Doubleday accepted King’s manuscript, Doubleday editor Bill Thompson told King that a major paperback sales hit would allow him to retire from teaching and write full-time. For King, that prediction came true. Carrie kicked off a nonstop, prolific streak of book publishing for King. Salem’s Lot came the next year in 1975. Other King books published in the 1970s include The Shining (1977), The Stand (1978), and The Dead Zone (1979). The success streak continued in the ‘80s, with King favorites including Cujo (1981), Christine (1982), Pet Sematary (1983), IT (1986) and Misery (1987). Many more books have followed since, for a total of more than 50 novels and novellas.

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