Derry (Stephen King)

Derry (Stephen King)

Derry, Maine is a fictional town and a part of Stephen King's fictional Maine topography, and, like Castle Rock, it has served as the setting for a number of his novels, novellas, and short stories. It first appeared in the short story "The Bird and the Album" and was expanded on in both It and Insomnia. Derry is said to be near Bangor, Maine, but King has acknowledged that Derry is actually his portrayal of Bangor.[1] A map on King's official website, though, places Derry in the vicinity of the town of Etna.[2]

Both Derry and Castle Rock, when joined with Jerusalem's Lot, complete a trinity of fictional towns King has created as central setting points; the three exist as the main setting in more than one work. King has created other fictional Maine towns such as Chamberlain in Carrie, Ludlow in Pet Sematary and The Dark Half (unrelated to the real Maine town of Ludlow), Haven in The Tommyknockers, Little Tall Island in Dolores Claiborne and Storm of the Century, and Chester's Mill in Under the Dome. However, these fictional towns have not been used as much as Derry, Castle Rock, and Jerusalem's Lot in King's stories. This trinity of locations is an homage to H. P. Lovecraft's use of Arkham, Dunwich, and Innsmouth, three fictional towns or cities in Massachusetts.



So far, five novels have been set in (or near) Derry:

  • In It, the first and defining Derry novel, the town is portrayed as haunted by a monster that changes shape to match the fears of its victim. This creature, dubbed "It" by its young protagonists, was responsible for the complete disappearance of the town's population during its early settlement and for literally hundreds of horrific tragedies and murders ever since. All of the atrocities throughout Derry's history are treated with total indifference by the local residents, thereby suggesting that Its evil has completely corrupted the town and everyone in it. Its hold over the town is so absolute that its apparent death causes an enormous storm that damages a part of Derry at the end of the novel.
  • Later, King went on to set the novel Insomnia in Derry. The novel concerns Ralph Roberts and Lois Chasse, two elderly Derry residents who are receptive to different planes of reality, including the universe of King's Dark Tower series. The two must use their knowledge and powers to stop their neighbor, chemist-turned-anti-abortion fanatic Ed Deepneau, from causing a tragedy in Derry that could drastically impact the Dark Tower universe.
  • The third is Bag of Bones, though it is only partially set in Derry–the beginning chapters of the book detail Mike Noonan's preparation to leave Derry after his wife dies of an aneurysm. The rest of the novel is set at the Noonan's summer home, Sara Laughs.
  • King's novel Dreamcatcher, about an encounter between four men and a hostile extraterrestrial being, is primarily set some forty miles north of Derry. Some portions of the novel, however, are set in the town.
  • 11/22/63, about a man traveling back in time to stop the Kennedy assassination, is partially set in Derry in September and October of 1958.

Major landmarks

29 Neibolt Street

On several occasions in It, the Losers find themselves at 29 Neibolt Street, a run-down, abandoned house near the trainyard. It is in this house – or rather, under the house's front porch – that Eddie Kaspbrak first encounters It, which shows itself as a mix between a homeless leper and its familiar Pennywise form. Later, after Eddie tells them his story, Bill and Richie go to investigate the house and are chased off by It, the creature having taken the form of a werewolf.

Soon after these incidents, the Losers Club goes back to the house in hopes of confronting It. However, soon after they confront It, the creature disappears into the sewers through a toilet pipe. They therefore decide to enter the sewers for their first showdown with It.

During It's 1985 killing spree, the body of one of the creature's victims is found directly across the street from the house.

The Barrens

The Barrens is a small tract of land still heavily covered in trees and plant life. Derry's landfill is located here, as is a gravel pit and several sewer pump-stations. The Barrens plays the most prominent a role in It, as the Losers adopt it as their home away from home, even building an underground clubhouse there. Most of the Losers have their first meeting here while trying to build a small dam in the Kenduskeag Stream, which runs through the Barrens, and next, Derry.

The Canal

A section of the Kenduskeag that runs through downtown Derry. The canal goes through a tunnel under the streets for a short way and comes out in Bassey Park. It was in January 1958 that a young Ben Hanscom first encountered It (in the form of a mummy) walking on top of the frozen surface.

Derry Civic Center

The Derry Civic Center is a recent structure built after the old civic center was destroyed in the 1985 flood. It was designed by famed architect (and one-time Derry resident) Ben Hanscom. It played an important role in the events of the novel Insomnia. The Crimson King, the supervillain of King's Dark Tower series, planned to use Ed Deepneau to fly into the Civic Center on a kamikaze mission, using a small plane armed with C4 explosives. The aim of this mission was not to kill the people inside the Center, but to kill a child named Patrick Danville, who plays a key role in the Dark Tower story. Ralph Roberts and Lois Chasse forced Deepneau to crash the plane in the Center's parking lot. Several people were killed, but Danville was saved.

Kitchener Ironworks

The Kitchener Ironworks was an ironworks outside of Derry. In 1906, despite every machine in the works having been shut completely down, the Ironworks inexplicably exploded, killing a group of 88 children and 102 total people who were participating in an Easter egg hunt. The tragedy was caused by It, sabotaging the equipment, and eight bodies were missing, presumably eaten by the monster. This marked the beginning of the creature's twenty-seven-year hibernation period. It was at the ruins of the Kitchener Ironworks where a young Mike Hanlon first encounters It in the form of a giant bird in 1958.

The Standpipe

The Standpipe was a large watertower in Derry. In its earlier days, it remained unlocked so that patrons of an adjoining park could climb a spiral staircase around the tank to look out over Derry from the top. The Standpipe was closed to the public after several children drowned in the tank, most likely the fault of It. The Standpipe was where Stanley Uris first encountered It, which took the form of drowned children.

After the grown-up Losers Club kills It in second Ritual Of Chüd in 1985, a huge storm ensues, destroying many buildings and landmarks in Derry, including the Standpipe. In Dreamcatcher, Mr. Gray drives to Derry to find the Standpipe, only to discover a memorial featuring a cast-bronze statue of two children and a plaque underneath, dedicated to the victims of the 1985 flood and of It. The plaque has been vandalized with graffiti reading, "PENNYWISE LIVES".

Tracker Brothers Shipping

According to It, the Tracker Brothers were two men who owned a trucking depot on Kansas Street during It's 1958 killing spree. The brothers maintained a baseball field behind the depot for children to play on. In Dreamcatcher, Jonesy, The Beav, Henry, and Pete first meet Duddits in the depot's parking lot in 1978 (at which time the depot has closed), saving him from a gang of bullies. In 1985, while visiting the abandoned depot, Eddie Kaspbrak encounters Pennywise for the first time since his childhood. The depot was destroyed in the same 1985 storm that destroyed the Standpipe.

Voigt Field

In The Running Man, a Richard Bachman novella set in a dystopian future, Derry is home to a large airport consisting of acres of parking lots, a huge "Northern States Terminal," several runways with the capacity to support large widebody aircraft, and a large fuel tank farm. Ben Richards, the novella's protagonist, arrives here by car and is allowed to board a "Lockheed GA/Superbird" by bluffing that he has enough plastic explosive with him to blow up the entire complex.

Works in which Derry appears

Derry is also mentioned in One on One, a 1993 novel by King's wife, Tabitha King. In an afterword, she thanks "another novelist who was kind enough to allow me" to use the town's name.

A town called Derry is also mentioned in the "Haven" TV series and in Horns, a 2010 novel by author Joe Hill, who is King's oldest son. However, the Derry mentioned in Hill's novel is a real city in New Hampshire.


See also

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