Stephen King’s stories have been set in a wide variety of places, like Oklahoma in “The Outsider,” Louisiana in “The Green Mile” and New Hampshire in “The Talisman.” But the vast majority of King’s novels and short stories have been set in Maine, where King and his wife, Tabitha, have lived for most of their lives.
Here are the real-life places where the Kings have lived over the years — in Maine and elsewhere — that figure in his books regularly, whether it’s the actual place or a fictional stand-in.
The town most synonymous with Stephen King. There are too many references to Bangor or its fictional stand-in, Derry, to note in one story, from iconic novels and movies like “It” to passing references in books like “Gerald’s Game,” “The Tommyknockers” and “Lisey’s Story.” Stephen and Tabitha King’s iconic Bangor home on West Broadway, where they lived for most or part of the year from 1980 until about 2019, was recently turned into the headquarters for their charitable foundation, which has donated millions of dollars to worthy causes in Maine. It will also house King’s extensive archives and a future writer’s retreat.
Stephen King was born in Portland, and though he lived in Indiana and Connecticut during his early childhood, by age 11, he and his family had settled in the Androscoggin County town of Durham. Durham as a place doesn’t figure too much in King’s works, though elements of his town of Castle Rock bear a resemblance. But Lisbon Falls High School, located in the next town over from Durham and which King attended, directly inspired the school that main character Jake teaches at in the novel “11/22/63.”
King is famously an alumnus of the University of Maine, where among other things he wrote for The Maine Campus and sold his first short story for publication. The school figures prominently in several of King’s works, most notably in the title novella in the collection “Hearts in Atlantis,” which is set at UMaine during the late 1960s.
After graduating from UMaine, Stephen and Tabitha King lived in Hampden, where Stephen King taught English at Hampden Academy. While Hampden itself doesn’t appear in any major way in any of King’s books, his experience teaching in a high school surely influenced the book he was writing at the same time: “Carrie,” his first published novel.
The Kings moved to Boulder, Colorado, in 1974, and though they stayed there for less than a year, the mountainous area made a big impact on King’s writing. The most notable examples of King’s work that are set in Colorado are “The Shining,” based on the very real Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, not far from Boulder; “Misery,” set in a remote, fictional Colorado town; and “The Stand,” where Boulder plays a key part in the story.
The Kings have actually owned a home in western Maine for even longer than they lived in Bangor — according to Tabitha King’s biography of her husband, they bought their property in Center Lovell in 1977. “The Mist” and “Bag of Bones” are both set in western Maine, and “Under the Dome” is set in the fictional town of Chester’s Mill, which was based on the town of Bridgton.
Before the Kings bought their Bangor house, they spent most of 1978 living in a rented home in Orrington, so Stephen King could commute to UMaine to teach English. The family cat was killed on Route 15 and buried in a pet cemetery in the back of the house — something that directly inspired one of King’s most popular stories, “Pet Sematary.”
Technically, the Kings live on Casey Key, one of the many barrier islands that surround the city of Sarasota, on Florida’s west coast. They’ve wintered in that area for decades, and they purchased their secluded island compound in 2001. Florida as a location for King’s stories didn’t appear until 2008 in his novel “Duma Key,” as well as the novella “The Gingerbread Girl” that appeared in his collection “Just After Sunset,” published the same year.