There is a flurry of excitement about Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining entitled Doctor Sleep which is due in 2013. But did you know that a prologue to The Shining was written that accounted the dark history of the Overlook Hotel and the grisly murders that occurred there?
After writing Carrie and Salem’s Lot, both of which are set in small towns in King’s home state of Maine, Stephen King was looking for a change of locale for his next book.
King randomly picked Boulder, Colorado as the setting for his next novel. In early 1974, King 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 chose the Stanley Hotel adjacent to Estes Park, Colorado.
On October 30, 1974 Stephen and Tabitha checked into the Stanley not knowing that the hotel was closing for the off season the next day. King and his wife were the only two guests in the hotel that night. They checked into room 217 which they found out was said to be haunted. This is where room 217 comes from in the book.
In 1972 King started a novel entitled Darkshine, which was intended 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 and by the time the novelist went to bed that night, the synopsis of his new book based in a haunted hotel was firmly in his mind.
In terms of structure, the original idea was for King to write The Shining in the form of a five-act Shakespearean tragedy, with scenes instead of chapters.
On final review Stephen King thought The Shining had too many loose ends so he added a prologue titled “Before the Play,” which provided a history of the Overlook’s construction and a number of terrible events that had occurred there before the Torrance family arrives at the Overlook. An epilogue, titled “After the Play” was also written but has since been lost.
There are 5 scenes that make up Before The Play:
– Scene 1 chronicles the construction of the Overlook Hotel and the death of the owners son.
– Scene 2 depicts the nightmares experienced by Lottie Pillsbury during her honeymoon at the Overlook.
– Scene 3 describes the Grand Masquerade Ball and the death of the lover of Horace Derwent.
– Scene 4 explains the accident when Jack Torrance had his arm broken by his drunk father.
– Scene 5 recounts the mob hit in the presidential room in gory detail.
Financial decisions related to the length of the book forced the publisher Doubleday to cut the prologue and epilogue.
Before the Play was later published by Stuart Schiff in Whispers Magazine in August of 1982. 376 hardbound and 26 lettered copies signed by King and Schiff were also produced and are now very rare and difficult to find. This is currently the only known full version of Before The Play!
Whispers Trade Magazine Cover
Limited Edition Whispers Hardcover Book
Limitation Page For The Whispers Hardcover Book
In 1997, King made his own version of the Shining for ABC and to promote the mini-series, TV Guide ran an extensive spread on it, including a part of the lost prologue from the novel.
Now, almost 30 years later, The Overlook Connection bookstore has created a slipcased 3 book collection ($200) that includes The Shining, Before The Play (a hardcover bound 1997 TV guide) and Doctor Sleep limited to 100 sets that will be released in 2013. Sets are selling rapidly, so if you want to read the full Shining story including the lost prologue, this is your best bet!