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Facts :
  • Was born in New York...
  • 'Died' in 1985 of cancer...
  • Has published six novels:
    Rage 1977
    The Long Walk 1979
    Roadwork 1981
    The Running Man 1982
    Thinner 1984
    The Regulators 1994...
  • Was exposed by Steve Brown...
  • PAGE MENU : official biography | bachman exposed | being bachman

    Richard BachmanLong before Carrie was published Stephen King had written two novels called Getting It On and The Long Walk, both of which he was quite fond of but couldn't quite manage to get published (though Getting It On almost made it to the bookstands). After the runaway successes of Carrie and Salem's Lot, King - obviously in a position of some strength now - decided to resurrect what he thought were good books. On the advice of his publishers however, who cautioned King on the dangers of overpublishing the market, Getting It On - renamed Rage - was published under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman. And a new author was born. Given an identity all his own - which included a cow, a wife, and a son who died in an freak accident - Bachman went on to publish more books and gather quite a cult following, his true identity kept a secret by all those who knew the truth for a long time.
    Several years, and five books later, however, a book store clerk named Steve Brown got suspicious and engaged in a little investigative work, discovering Stephen King's name on one of the Bachman copyright forms. That was the death of Bachman.
    A relatively straightforward - and very reasonable - explanation for the life and death of Bachman, it seemed a little too simple for the fertile imagination of King who would soon regret the passing of Bachman and all the possibilities offered. Like the chance for indulging in a schizoid fantasy, perhaps? Having a different identity write a book is, after all, far more interesting that simply writing a book under a different identity. King decided to rewrite the entire story - as a writer that's his prerogative, right? - and in the latest edition of The Bachman books, that is exactly what he has done. Here is the revised version of The Importance of Being Bachman. Not very straightforward, this explanation - but given that it's King who is making it - just as reasonable.

    For those interested, here is The Official Biography of Richard Bachman, the story of How Bachman was Exposed by Steve Brown and The Importance of being Bachman by Stephen King.

    Born in New York, Richard Bachman's early years are a mystery. As a young man, Bachman served a four year stint in the Coast Guard, which he then followed with ten years in the merchant marine. Bachman finally settled down in rural central New Hampshire, where he ran a medium - sized dairy farm. He did his writing at night (he suffered from chronic insomnia) after the cows came home. Bachman and his wife, Claudia Inez Bachman, had one child, a boy, who died in an unfortunate, Stephen King - ish type accident at the age of six. He apparently fell through a well and drowned. In 1982, a brain tumor was discovered near the base of Bachman's brain; tricky surgery removed it. Bachman however, didn't long long after that, dying suddenly in late 1985 of cancer of the pseudonym, a rare form of schizonomia.
    At the time of his death, Bachman had published five novels: Rage in 1977, The Long Walk in 1979, Roadwork in 1981, The Running Man in 1982 and Thinner in 1984. The first four novels were published as paperbacks, but as Bachman had been gaining quite a constant readership, his last novel, Thinner, was published in hardcover and was well received by the critics.
    Bachman fans, who mourned the death of the author, received a bit of good news recently. In 1994, while preparing to move to a new house, the widow Bachman discovered a cardboard carton filled with manuscripts in the cellar. The carton contained a number of novels and stories, in varying degrees of completion. The most finished was a typescript of a novel entitled, The Regulators. The widow took the manuscript to Bachman's former editor, Charles Verrill, who found it compared well with Bachman's earlier works. After only a few minor changes, and with the approval of the author's widow (now Claudia Eschelman), The Regulators was published posthumorously in September of 1996 by Dutton. As of this time, no other information has been forthcoming as to the possibility of the remaining unpublished carton works being published.

    Steve Brown was the man who discovered that Bachman was King. Here is how, in his own words, of how he made the discovery.

    When I read an advance copy of Thinner, I was no more than two pages into it when I said, "This is either Stephen King or the world's best imitator." I began to ponder that maybe this *was* King. More or less as a kind of game, not real seriously, I took the subway over to the Library of Congress to look up the copyright documents. All but the oldest were copyrighted in Kirby McCauley's name - - a big clue, as KM was King's agent, but not conclusive. McCauley had many clients. I almost gave up at this point, as the oldest book was copyrighted before the LC changed to an easy computer system. But, just to be anal about it, I insisted the clerk go off and manually hunt up the document. She came back and handed it to me. There it was: Stephen King, Bangor, Maine. I xeroxed all documents and went home.
    I admire and respect King and had no desire to do something that might hurt him. So I made copies of everything and wrote out a letter explaining my research. I told him I'd love to write some little article about this, but that if there was some sort of problem involved, to let me know and I would promise to keep quiet. I mailed the package to King c/o Kirby Mccauley. I expected at most some little note in return. Two weeks went by. Then I heard a page over the intercom at the big bookstore I worked in. "Steve Brown. Call for Steve Brown on line 5." I picked it up and a voice said, "Steve Brown? This is Steve King. All right. You know I'm Bachman. I know I'm Bachman. What are we going to do about it? Let's talk."
    It hadn't occurred to me he'd call, so I hadn't bother to give him my number or even the name of the bookstore. He had spent a whole afternoon calling every bookstore in DC trying to find me!
    Anyway, we chatted for a while and he gave me his unlisted home phone and told me to call him in the evening. I ran out and got a tape recorder with a telephone attachment and interviewed him for three nights straight over the phone. He was very relaxed and very funny throughout. He didn't seem at all upset that I had found him out. He as extremely gracious and said that he wouldn't talk to anyone else but me (outside of simply admitting it), that mine would be the only lengthy interview on the subject.
    It took a while for me to get it in shape and find a publisher. During this time King kept in contact and told me that more and more people had read Thinner and were coming after him. Finally I published it in the Washington Post. From there, it went everywhere.
    My interview (with all the dirty words the Post made me take out) has been reprinted in the Underwood/Miller collection of essays on King, "Kingdom of Fear," for those interested.
    I stress that there was never any hint of blackmail, that King talked to me of his own free will and gave me a lengthy interview at his suggestion, not mine. I think he knew that the truth was going to come out anyway, and he liked the idea of this nobody book clerk in Washington getting the story instead of the New York Times or something.
    I should also stress that I did all this out of simple respect for the man and because, to me, it was a wild weird and kind of cool game. I did not "cash in" at all. King mentioned me by name in the intro to the original edition of the Bachman Books, but this has vanished in the current edition.

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