On Thursday, September 10 the American president Barack Obama honored 21 organizations and individuals on the sector of humanities and arts.Among those who received a medal was writer Stephen King, who received the National Medal of Arts for combining storytelling with analysis of human nature. According to President Obama, “one of the most popular and prolific writers of our time, Mr. King combines his remarkable storytelling with his sharp analysis of human nature .For decades, his works of horror, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy have terrified and delighted audiences around the world.”
Stephen King, aged 67, began writing while still in school. The first of his stories to be independently published was “I Was a Teenage Grave Robber”. In 1973, King’s first novel Carrie was accepted by publishing house Doubleday, and he has since published 54 novels and written nearly 200 short stories, most of which have been collected in book collections. Along the multitude of awards won through his life are Bram Stoker Awards, World Fantasy Awards, the O. Henry Award and British Fantasy Society Awards. In 2003, the National Book Foundation awarded him the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He has also received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement (2004), the Canadian Booksellers Association Lifetime Achievement Award (2007), and the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America (2007). Movie adaptations of his novels include IT, The Shinning, Misery, The Green Mile, Salem’s Lot and more.
Along with being a successful and prolific writer, King is also involved with charity. He donates approximately $4 million per year “to libraries, local fire departments that need updated lifesaving equipment, schools, and a scattering of organizations that underwrite the arts.”The Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation, spends over $2.8 million in grants per year, according to The Grantsmanship Center. In November 2011, the Foundation donated $70,000 in matched funding for families in need Bangor, Maine.
According to Stephen King when asked why he became an author, “ The answer to that is fairly simple-there was nothing else I was made to do. I was made to write stories and I love to write stories. That’s why I do it. I really can’t imagine doing anything else and I can’t imagine not doing what I do”. How about retiring? “Not yet. I’m writing but I’m writing at a much slower pace than previously and I think that if I come up with something really, really good, I would be perfectly willing to publish it because that still feels like the final act of the creative process, publishing it so people can read it and you can get feedback and people can talk about it with each other and with you, the writer, but the force of my invention has slowed down a lot over the years and that’s as it should be. I’m not a kid of 25 anymore and I’m not a young middle-aged man of 35 anymore-I have grandchildren and I have a lot of things to do besides writing and that in and of itself is a wonderful thing but writing is still a big, important part of my life and of everyday.”