Born in 1947, Stephen King has become a household name all over the world. His mother raised him and his brother after their father deserted the family in 1950. In high school, King began to write short stories, his first published work appearing in 1968. He attended the University of Maine, graduating with a B.S. in 1970. Up until his first novel appeared, King had worked in an industrial laundry, as a janitor, as well as an English teacher. CARRIE, his debut, was met by a largely indifferent public in 1974. It wasn't until two years later, after King's second novel 'SALEM'S LOT and the filmed version of CARRIE, that King became a major player in the horror field. THE SHINING, his 1977 haunted hotel novel, began a litany of bestsellers, including THE STAND, THE DEAD ZONE, PET SEMETARY, DOLORES CLAIBORNE, and many others. King's work is regarded as instrumental in bringing about a resurgence of interest in horror fiction in the 1970s and '80s. An extremely high percentage of King's voluminous literary output has been filmed, with varying degrees of success, but all serving to carry the name of Stephen King far and wide. He has written nonfiction, given lectures, acted in films, and continues to produce huge novels nearly every year, all of which become instant bestsellers. As an bizarre sidenote, during the summer of 1999 while walking along a back road in Maine, King was struck and seriously injured by a minivan whose driver apparently lost control of the vehicle while being distracted by his dog--thus creating exactly the kind of news item that might have inspired several of King's own novels.
William Golding's father was a schoolmaster, his mother a suffragette. At the age of 12, he began writing a 12-volume epic novel that began, "I was born in the Duchy of Cornwall on the eleventh of October, 1792, of rich but honest parents." Upon graduating from Oxford, Golding taught English and philosophy at a school in Salisbury until, when World War II began, he served in the navy as a rocket ship commander. LORD OF THE FLIES, his first published novel, appeared in 1954 after being rejected by 21 publishers; Golding was 45. Thereafter, he published five novels in 10 years, to great critical and popular acclaim; then, for 15 years, he published very little, and nothing of significance, until DARKNESS VISIBLE (1979) and RITES OF PASSAGE (1980), for which he won the Booker Prize, restored his reputation. He won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1983. In 1961, he came to the States and spent a year as writer-in-residence at Hollins College. Golding was also an accomplished musician, playing the piano, violin, viola, cello, and oboe. He was knighted in 1988 and died of heart failure in 1993.