Castle Rock (Stephen King)

Castle Rock (Stephen King)

Castle Rock, Maine is part of Stephen King’s fictional Maine topography, and as such serves as the setting for a number of his novels, novellas, and short stories. Built similarly to the prototypical King town Jerusalem's Lot (featured in the novel "'Salem's Lot") and the town of Derry (featured in the novel "It"), Castle Rock is a typical small New England town with several dark secrets.

Castle Rock first appeared in the novel "The Dead Zone", and was used in several other books (see list below). King originally intended to stop using Castle Rock as the setting of his works after the novel "Needful Things", although this was followed by an epilogue in the short story "It Grows On You". Castle Rock was later mentioned in works such as "Riding the Bullet" and as part of the setting for "Bag Of Bones".

Geographical location

Population of Castle Rock was 1280 by 1959 and around 1500 as of its final chronological appearance in Needful Things. In "Creepshow" (1982), there is a sign at the end of "Weeds" that puts Portland at 37 miles, and Boston at 188 miles (it should be noted, though, that "Weeds" was actually set in New Hampshire in King's original story). Geographically this puts Castle Rock in the northern hemisphere of a 37 mile radius from Portland, Maine. This could include places such as Durham, Danville, Auburn, Lewiston, Bridgton and maybe even Sabattus. A map on King's official website places Castle Rock in Oxford County, in the vicinity of Woodstock. Yet the works in which Castle Rock appears place the town in the fictional "Castle County," which also includes such towns as Castle Lake, Castle View, and Dark Score Lake.


Castle Rock is influenced by the works of H. P. Lovecraft, who created a series of fictional small towns in New England called Arkham, Dunwich, Innsmouth and Kingsport. King has somewhat mimicked this idea of Lovecraft's with the towns of Jerusalem's Lot, Castle Rock, and Derry. King has openly admitted being a great fan of Lovecraft, calling him the "20th century's dark and baroque prince". The actual name for the city appears to have been taken from a geographical feature which appears in William Golding's novel "Lord of the Flies". This rocky area of the boys' island is where Jack Merridew sets up his rival camp.

The town may be based on King's home town of Durham, Maine and Lisbon Falls, Maine, where he attended high school. Durham was the home of a 19th Century millenarian sect known as The Kingdom (the link to "castle"?) whose home, "Shiloh", was an imposing wooden complex on a hill, capped by a huge crown. The central portion of the Shiloh complex still stands, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Works in which Castle Rock is the main setting

*"The Dead Zone"
*"The Body" (novella from "Different Seasons")
*"Uncle Otto's Truck" (short story which appears in "Skeleton Crew")
*"The Dark Half"
*"The Sun Dog" (novella from "Four Past Midnight")
*"Needful Things"
*"It Grows On You" (short story which appears in "Nightmares & Dreamscapes")
*"Lisey's Story"
*"The Man in the Black Suit" (short story which appears in "").

Works that make reference to Castle Rock

*"Graveyard Shift" (short story which appears in "Night Shift")
*"Nona" (short story appearing in "Skeleton Crew")
*"Mrs. Todd's Shortcut" (short story appearing in "Skeleton Crew")
*"Gramma" (short story appearing in "Skeleton Crew")
*"Gerald's Game"
*"The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon"
*"Bag of Bones" (significant portions of this story are set in Castle Rock, along with Derry, Maine and on TR90 at Dark Score Lake, Maine)
*"Riding the Bullet"
*"The Stand"
*"Kingdom Hospital" (Television series)
*"Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" (the narrator Red was a resident before his incarceration at Shawshank)
*"Pet Sematary" (actually refers to the events of Cujo which take place in Castle Rock)

The first film adaptation of a Stephen King story to make reference to Castle Rock was "Stand by Me", although that film's Castle Rock was moved to the state of Oregon. Rob Reiner, the film's director, later named his production company Castle Rock Entertainment. This company has produced several subsequent adaptations of King's work.

Longtime residents

*George Bannerman - longtime sheriff and all-around good guy (deceased)
*Evelyn "Aunt Evvie" Chalmers - former holder of the "Boston Post" cane, awarded to the town's oldest living resident (deceased)
*Alan Pangborn - Sheriff of Castle County (since moved away and then deceased)
*Andy Clutterbuck - deputy sheriff with a drinking problem (deceased)
*Reginald Marion "Pop" Merrill - owner of the town junk-shop, occasional money-lender, and generally unsavoury character (deceased)
*John "Ace" Merrill - Pop's nephew, a career criminal and drug dealer (deceased)
*Frank Dodd - Sheriff's deputy and serial killer (deceased)

Other Castle Rocks

The name of King's town would eventually become famous enough that it was used for a few other products other than King's writings. A monthly newsletter about Stephen King called "Castle Rock" was published from January 1985 through December 1989. For most of this period it was edited by King's brother-in-law, Christopher Spruce; and later by his sister-in-law, Stephanie Leonard.

After the success of the film "Stand By Me" (an adaptation of King's novella "The Body"), director Rob Reiner decided to name his production company after King's town. This came to be known as Castle Rock Entertainment. That company later produced the film version of "Needful Things".

There are several real Castle Rocks in the United States, notably in Colorado, just south of Denver.

Other references

In Koushun Takami's novel "Battle Royale", the town from which the ill-fated students hail is called Shiroiwa, which translates as "Castle Rock".

In a scene from the alien invasion movie "Bad Taste", a signpost is shown with two directions listed: one towards to Kaihoro, the other leads to a town named Castle Rock. This is confirmed to be a reference to King's creation.

ee also

*Derry, Maine
*Jerusalem's Lot, Maine

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