The Shining (novel)

The Shining (novel)
The Shining  
First edition cover
Author(s) Stephen King
Cover artist Dave Christensen
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Gothic, Horror
Publisher Doubleday
Publication date January 1977
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 683
ISBN 978-0385121675
Preceded by 'Salem's Lot
Followed by The Stand

The Shining is a 1977 horror novel by American author Stephen King. The title was inspired by the John Lennon song "Instant Karma!", which contained the line "We all shine on…".[1] It was King's third published novel, and first hardback bestseller, and the success of the book firmly established King as a preeminent author in the horror genre. A film based upon the book, The Shining directed by Stanley Kubrick, was released in 1980. The book was later adapted into a television mini-series in 1997.

The book is dedicated to King's son, Joseph: "This is for Joe Hill King, who shines on."


Plot summary

Jack Torrance is a temperamental alcoholic and aspiring writer. He is trying to rebuild his life after previously breaking his son's arm in a drunken rage and assaulting a pupil at a Vermont prep school where he was a teacher. After losing his teaching position and giving up drinking, Jack accepts a job as a winter caretaker at the large, isolated Overlook Hotel in Colorado to rebuild his life with his family and write a new play. Jack, his wife Wendy, and their clairvoyant son, Danny, move into the Overlook.

Danny's clairvoyance makes him sensitive to supernatural forces. Shortly after the family's initial arrival at the hotel, Danny and the hotel chef, Dick Hallorann, talk privately to discuss Danny's talent and the hotel's sinister nature. Dick informs Danny that he shares Danny's abilities (though to a lesser degree), as did Dick's grandmother, who called it "shining". Dick warns Danny to avoid Room 217, and reassures him that the things he may see are merely pictures which cannot harm him. The conversation ends with Dick saying to Danny, "If there is give a shout."

The hotel has a personality in its own right, and acts as a psychic lens: it manipulates the living and the dead for its own purposes, and magnifies the psychic powers of any living people who reside there and makes them more sensitive to its urgings. Danny has premonitions of the hotel's danger to his family and begins seeing ghosts and frightening visions from the hotel's past, but puts up with them in the hope that they are not dangerous in the present. Although Danny is close to his father, he does not tell either of his parents about his visions because he senses that the caretaking job is important to his father and the family's future. Wendy thinks about taking Danny away from the Overlook to leave Jack there to finish the job on his own, but Danny refuses, thinking his father will be happier if they stay. Danny soon realizes, however, that his presence in the hotel makes it more powerful and enables it to make normally harmless objects and situations dangerous, such as topiary animals that come to life.

The hotel has difficulty possessing Danny, so it begins to possess Jack, frustrating his need and desire to work. Jack becomes increasingly unstable, and the sinister ghosts of the hotel gradually begin to overtake him. One day he goes to the bar of the hotel, previously empty of alcohol, and finds it fully stocked. As he gets drunk, the hotel attempts to use Jack to kill Wendy and Danny in order to absorb Danny's psychic abilities. Wendy and Danny get the better of Jack, locking him into the walk-in pantry, but the ghost of Delbert Grady, a former caretaker who murdered his family and then committed suicide, releases him. Wendy discovers that they are completely isolated at the Overlook, as Jack has sabotaged the hotel's snowmobile and smashed the CB radio in the office. Jack strikes Wendy with one of the hotel's roque mallets, breaking three ribs, a kneecap, and one vertebra in her back. Wendy stabs Jack in the small of his back with a large butcher knife, then crawls away to the caretaker's suite and locks herself in the bathroom, with Jack in pursuit. Jack tries to break the door with the mallet, but before he unlocks the door she keeps him back by cutting him with some razor blades.

Hallorann, working at a winter resort in Florida, has heard Danny's psychic call for help and rushes back to the Overlook. Jack leaves Wendy in the bathroom and ambushes Hallorann, shattering his jaw and giving him a concussion with the mallet, before setting off after Danny. Danny distracts Jack by saying "You're not my daddy," having realized that the Overlook has completely taken over Jack by playing on his alcoholism. Jack temporarily regains control of himself and tells Danny, "Run away. Quick. And remember how much I love you". Soon after, Jack is quickly possessed by the hotel again. He violently bashes his own face and skull in with his mallet so Danny can no longer recognize him as his father. Danny, realizing that his father is now gone forever, tells Jack that the unstable boiler is going to explode. In response, Jack rushes to the basement. Danny and Wendy reunite in the lobby and they flee the Overlook with Hallorann. Though Jack tries to relieve the boiler pressure, it explodes, destroying the hotel. The building's spirit makes one last desperate attempt to possess Hallorann and make him kill Danny and Wendy, but he shakes it off and brings them to safety.

The novel ends with Danny and Wendy summering at a resort in Maine where Hallorann, the head chef, talks with Danny and comforts him over the loss of his father.


Danny Torrance

Daniel Anthony "Danny" Torrance is the five-year-old son of Jack and Wendy. He has the "Shining," which allows him to detect spirits and thus makes him a target of the Hotel. It also allows him to see past, present, and future events through his 'guide', Tony. Tony (his name taken from Danny's middle name, Anthony), is at first to Danny an imaginary playmate, then a source of fear, and finally a source of strength. Towards the end of the novel Tony reveals himself to Danny: "'Danny ... you're in a place deep down in your own mind. The place where I am. I'm a part of you, Danny.'" More specifically, Tony is Danny from the future: "Tony was like looking into a magic mirror and seeing himself in ten years"; "Tony ... the Daniel Anthony Torrance that would someday be."

Jack Torrance

John Daniel "Jack" Torrance is a recovering alcoholic who lost his teaching job due to beating a student for slashing his car's tires. He takes his family to the hotel, but is driven by the hotel and its spirits to drink. Jack goes insane and attempts to kill Wendy, Danny and Dick Hallorann with a roque mallet. At the end of the novel, the mutual love of Jack and his son allows Jack to redeem himself by aiding his family to escape before the Overlook explodes, killing him.

Wendy Torrance

Winnifred "Wendy" Torrance is Jack's wife and Danny's mother. A strong woman, she remains at Jack's side as he struggles to stay sober, but is forced to fight for her and her son's life when Jack becomes completely possessed. She suffers multiple injuries at Jack's hands, including a broken back, but escapes to safety with Danny and Hallorann before the Overlook's boiler explodes.

Dick Hallorann

Dick Hallorann is the chef of the Overlook Hotel and shares the "shining" ability with Danny. Dick is telepathically called by Danny to the hotel, and is almost killed by Jack with a roque mallet. At the end of the novel, Dick helps Danny and Wendy escape.

Hallorann additionally appears in Stephen King's It as a 19-year-old Private First Class "mess-cook". Hallorann helped create "The Black Spot," a club for black enlisted men, which was burned down in a racially motivated attack in 1930. During the fire, Hallorann used his "shine" to determine the safest exit from the burning building which had become a deathtrap, saving many lives in the process, including Will Hanlon, Mike Hanlon's father.

Horace Derwent

Horace "Harry" Derwent was a self-made millionaire and former owner of the Overlook Hotel. He is responsible for much of the Overlook's notorious history. Derwent purchased the Overlook sometime in the early 1940s and invested over one million dollars into its renovation before the grand opening on August 29, 1945, which Derwent celebrated by hosting a lavish masked ball. He appears to Jack in the Colorado Lounge as one of the apparitions at the ball. However, unlike Lloyd the bartender, and Grady the caretaker, Derwent does not actually interact with Jack.

Stuart Ullman

Stuart Ullman is the manager of the Overlook Hotel. The entire staff hates him, but nevertheless hold a grudging respect for his business ability. He does not believe Jack is suited for the caretaker job, but gives it to him because an old friend of Jack's sits on the board of directors. Jack shares a mutual hatred of the man, Jack often referring to him in his inner monologue as an officious little prick, or similar epithets. Ullman tells Jack about the tragedy of the previous caretaker.


There are at least three special collector's editions, aside from the original and trade copies.

  • The first is a blue cover, with a faceless Danny in the middle. It includes a color photograph of the original hardcover and an introduction by Ken Follett.
  • The second is a comic-book style front, in which Danny has a thought bubble containing the Overlook, with a new introduction by King.
  • Another edition is a white cover with comic writing: "Stephen King" "The Shining" with a wasp in the lower-right corner.


After writing Carrie and 'Salem's Lot, both of which are set in small towns in King's home state of Maine, King was looking for a change of pace for the next book. "I wanted to spend a year away from Maine so that my next novel would have a different sort of background."[2] King opened an atlas of the US on the kitchen table and randomly pointed to a location, which turned out to be Boulder, Colorado.[3] So in early 1974, King and his wife, Tabitha, and their two children, Naomi and Joe, moved across the country to Colorado.

Around Halloween, Tabitha decided that the adult Kings needed a mini-vacation and, on the advice of locals, they decided to try out a resort hotel adjacent to Estes Park, Colorado (nestled at the foot of the Rocky Mountain National Park) called the Stanley Hotel. On October 30, 1974,[4] Stephen and Tabitha checked into the Stanley. They almost were not able to check in as the hotel was closing for the off season the next day and the credit card slips had already been packed away.

Stephen and Tabitha were the only two guests in the hotel that night. "When we arrived, they were just getting ready to close for the season, and we found ourselves the only guests in the place — with all those long, empty corridors . . ."[2] They checked into room 217 which they found out was said to be haunted. This is where room 217 comes from in the book.[5]

Ten years prior, King had read Ray Bradbury's The Veldt and was inspired to someday write a story about a person whose dreams would become real. In 1972 King started a novel entitled Darkshine, which was to be about a psychic boy in a psychic amusement park, but the idea never came to fruition and King abandoned the book. During the night at the Stanley, this story came back to him.[6]

Tabitha and Stephen had dinner that evening in the grand dining room, totally alone. They were offered one choice for dinner, the only meal still available. Taped orchestral music played in the room and theirs was the only table set for dining. "Except for our table all the chairs were up on the tables. So the music is echoing down the hall, and, I mean, it was like God had put me there to hear that and see those things. And by the time I went to bed that night, I had the whole book in my mind".[7]

After dinner, Tabitha decided to turn in, but Stephen took a walk around the empty hotel. He ended up in the bar and was served drinks by a bartender named Grady.[4]

"That night I dreamed of my three-year-old son running through the corridors, looking back over his shoulder, eyes wide, screaming. He was being chased by a fire-hose. I woke up with a tremendous jerk, sweating all over, within an inch of falling out of bed. I got up, lit a cigarette, sat in a chair looking out the window at the Rockies, and by the time the cigarette was done, I had the bones of the book firmly set in my mind."[3]

Originally conceived as a five-act tragedy play, the story evolved into a five-act novel that also included many of King's own personal demons.

Sometimes you confess. You always hide what you're confessing to. That's one of the reasons why you make up the story. When I wrote The Shining, for instance, the protagonist of The Shining is a man who has broken his son's arms, who has a history of child beating, who is beaten himself. And as a young father with two children, I was horrified by my occasional feelings of real antagonism toward my children. Won't you ever stop? Won't you ever go to bed? And time has given me the idea that probably there are a lot of young fathers and young mothers both who feel very angry, who have angry feelings toward their children. But as somebody who has been raised with the idea that father knows best and Ward Cleaver on 'Leave It To Beaver,' and all this stuff, I would think to myself, Oh, if he doesn't shut up, if he doesn't shut up. . . . So when I wrote this book I wrote a lot of that down and tried to get it out of my system, but it was also a confession. Yes, there are times when I felt very angry toward my children and have even felt as though I could hurt them. Well, my kids are older now. Naomi is fifteen and Joey is thirteen and Owen is eight, and they're all super kids, and I don't think I've laid a hand on one of my kids in probably seven years, but there was a time ...[2]

According to "Guests and Ghosts," an Internet article, the Stanley, which was built by Freelan Oscar ("F.O.") Stanley, based on the designs of his wife, Flora, opened in 1903 and was "once a luxury hotel for the well-heeled Edwardian-era tourist". The hotel boasts having had such guests as not only King but also Theodore Roosevelt, Bob Dylan, Cary Grant, Doris Day, Billy Graham, Japan’s Emperor Hirohito, and John Philip Sousa.[7]

The Shining was also heavily influenced by Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House,[8] Edgar Allan Poe's The Masque of the Red Death and The Fall of the House of Usher,[6] and Robert Marasco's Burnt Offerings.[3] The story has been often compared to Guy de Maupassant's story "The Inn".[9]

Prior to writing The Shining, King had written Roadwork and The Body which were both published later. The first draft of The Shining took less than four months to complete and he was able to publish it before the others.[3]

Bill Thompson, King's editor at Doubleday, tried to talk King out of The Shining as he felt after Carrie and 'Salem's Lot, King would get "typed" as a horror writer. King considered that a compliment.[3]

Originally there was a prologue titled "Before the Play" that chronicled earlier events in the Overlook's nightmarish history and an interlude in which a young Jack Torrance is himself abused by his father, also an alcoholic, while a voice tells him that "what you see is what you'll be". It was removed from the finished manuscript, although it was later published in the magazines Whispers and TV Guide (the latter, in an abridged version, to promote King's new miniseries adaptation of the novel). There also was an epilogue titled "After the Play", but it appears to no longer exist, as it was never published, and King maintains he does not have a copy of it.[10][11]

Links to King's other works

There are many links to other King books. The Overlook hotel is mentioned in Misery, and the main character's telepathic abilities in The Stand are referred to as "the shine". The character of Dick Hallorann appears in King's It, as a young soldier who saves the life of the father of the main character at an African-American nightclub. The Regulators, written by King under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman, refers to the novel The Shining, and one of the Dark Tower novels refers to the film version. A poem that Jack Torrance reads in the novel (actually written by King as an undergraduate) resurfaces in Lisey's Story.


On November 19, 2009, during a reading at the Canon Theatre in Toronto, Canada, King described to the audience an idea for a sequel to The Shining. The story would follow Danny Torrance, now in his 40s, living in upstate New York, where he works as an orderly at a hospice and helps terminally ill patients pass away with the aid of some extraordinary powers.[12] Later, on December 1, 2009, King posted a poll on his official website, asking visitors to vote for which book he should write next, Doctor Sleep or the next Dark Tower novel:

I mentioned two potential projects while I was on the road, one a new Mid-World book (not directly about Roland Deschain, but yes, he and his friend Cuthbert are in it, hunting a skin-man, which are what werewolves are called in that lost kingdom) and a sequel to The Shining called Doctor Sleep. Are you interested in reading either of these? If so, which one turns your dials more? [We] will be counting your votes (and of course it all means nothing if the muse doesn't speak).[13]

Voting ended on December 31, 2009, and it was revealed that Doctor Sleep received 5,861 votes, while The Wind Through the Keyhole received 5,812.[14]

In 2011, King posted an update confirming that Dr. Sleep is in the works and that the plot includes a traveling group of vampires called The Tribe.[15][16]


  1. ^ King discusses this in Underwood, Tim; Chuck Miller (1988). Bare Bones: Conversations in Terror with Stephen King'. McGraw-Hill. p. 125. ISBN 0070657599, 9780070657595. 
  2. ^ a b c "The Stephen King Companion" Beahm, George Andrews McMeel press 1989
  3. ^ a b c d e "Stephen King: America's Best Loved Boogeyman" Beahm, George Andrews McMeel Press 1998
  4. ^ a b "Stephen King Country" Beahm, George Running Press 1999
  5. ^ This is asserted by tne management of the Stanley Hotel on their tours and on their website.
  6. ^ a b "Stephen King: The Art of Darkness" Winter, Douglas E. Plume 1984
  7. ^ a b (captured 6/15/06)[dead link]
  8. ^ "The Annotated Guide to Stephen King" Collings, Michael R. Starmount House 1986
  9. ^ "Guy de Maupassant Biography". 2011-06-14. Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  10. ^ "Before the Play". Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  11. ^ "Stephen King Rare Works". Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  12. ^ "Stephen King planning possible sequel to The Shining". 
  13. ^ "Steve needs your input". 2009-11-30. Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  14. ^ "Doctor Sleep wins?". Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  15. ^ "Dr. Sleep Sequel Confirmed". 
  16. ^ "Stephen King Officially Announces 'The Shining' Sequel, 'Dr. Sleep'". 2011-09-26. 

External links

  • The Shining publication history at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
  • Bookpoi - How to identify first edition copies of The Shining by Stephen King.

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