|Born||July 7, 1931 |
|Died||June 2, 2009 |
Carson City, Nevada
|Debut works||Novel: High Hunt|
|Magnum Opus||Novel: The Belgariad|
David Carroll Eddings, born July 7, 1931, died June 2, 2009, is an American author who has written several best-selling series of epic fantasy novels. David Eddings' wife, Leigh Eddings, is uncredited as co-author on many of his early books, but he acknowledged that she contributed to them all. Born in Spokane, Washington, Eddings grew up in Puget Sound before graduating with a BA from Reed College in 1954 and an MA from the University of Washington in 1961. Before becoming an author he worked for the United States Army, the Boeing Company, as an Assistant Professor, and served jail time for child abuse.
David was born in Washington 1931, and grew up near Seattle. In The Rivan Codex, he described a good day in Seattle as ‘when it isn’t raining up;’ rain became a consequent feature in many of his novels. After graduating in 1949, he worked for a year before majoring in speech, drama and English at junior college. David displayed an early talent for drama and literature, winning a national oratorical contest, and performing the male lead in most of his drama productions. In his own words, ‘I tore that junior college up!’
His Reed College senior thesis gave him his first chance to write a sustained piece of fiction. During his junior year a noted writer named Walter van Tilberg Clark visited Reed for a week, read one of Eddings's short stories--about a soldier returned from the military who tries to find out why his girlfriend committed suicide--and suggested that Eddings expand it into a novel. Eddings had been taking a creative writing course from English and art history professor Lloyd Reynolds, who became his thesis adviser for the novel, How Lonely Are the Dead.
After graduation from Reed he was drafted into the US army. Sent to Germany, David made the, ‘obligatory pilgrimages,’ to Paris, Vienna, Rome, Naples, London, Berlin and Florence.
After service Eddings returned to his graduate education at the University of Washington, where he wrote another unfinished novel, Man Running, to earn his Masters’ Degree. Eddings went on to teach American and English literature including Chaucer and Shakespeare at several colleges around the country.
Although his studies at Washington concentrated mainly on American fiction, David taught himself Middle English and, ‘Fell in love,’ with Chaucer and Sir Thomas Malory. During his college years, he worked part-time in a grocery store before becoming a buyer for Boeing rocket ships. It was during this time that he met his future wife, and writing partner, David was also highly annoyed that her security clearance was much higher than his own was. The pair married October 27th, 1962.
David and Leigh (real name Judith Lee) adopted one boy in 1966, and adopted a younger girl between 1966 and 1969. They lost custody of both children in 1969, and each were sentenced to a year in jail because of child abuse. Appeals to keep custody were denied in 1970. The horrific nature of the abuse lead to widespread coverage in South Dakota papers, TV, and radio.
Later Eddings would claim his change from Assistant Professor of Communications at Black Hills State College to grocery-bagger was caused by his annoyance at administrators voting themselves a pay ray, but the career switch coincides with the jail time.
He also began work on his first published novel High Hunt, (probably while in jail) the story of four young men hunting deer. Like many of his later novels, it explores themes of manhood and coming of age. Convinced that being an author was his future career, David moved to Spokane where he once again relied on a job at a grocery shop for his funds. He worked on several unpublished novels, including ‘Hunseeker’s Ascent,’ a story about mountain climbing, which was later burned as David claimed it was, ‘a piece of tripe so bad it even bored me.’ Most of his attempts followed the same vein as High Hunt, adventure stories and contemporary tragedies. The Losers was not published until June 1992, well after David’s success as an author was established, although it was written in the seventies.
David’s call to the world of fantasy came from a doodled map he drew one morning before work. This doodle later became the geographical basis for the world of Aloria, but David did not realize it until several years later. Upon seeing a copy of Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ in a bookshop, (He often referred to the author as Papa Tolkien) he claims to have muttered, ‘Is this old turkey still floating around?’ and was shocked to learn that it was in its seventy-eighth printing. This story is questionable as Eddings assigned Lord of the Rings many times in his time as a lecturer. David realized that the world of fantasy might hold some promise for his talents, and immediately began to annotate his previously forgotten doodle.
Eddings was famously old-fashioned, never using a typewriter or computer (he wrote out his scripts in long-hand) and was well-known for being self-effacing, once remarking, "I'm never going to be in danger of getting a Nobel Prize for literature." He was most pleased when told that his books had turned non-readers into book lovers. "I look upon this as perhaps my purpose in life," he explained in a 1997 interview. "I am here to teach a generation or two how to read. After they've finished with me and I don't challenge them any more, they can move on to somebody important like Homer or Milton."
Eddings struggled with alcoholism. He wrote in his diaries extensively about his challenges with alcohol throughout the 1990s.
On January 26th, 2007 Eddings accidentally burned about a quarter of his office, along with his Excalibur sports car, and the original manuscripts for most of his novels. He was flushing the fuel tank of the car with water when he lit a piece of paper and threw into the puddle to test if it was still flammable.
On February 28th, 2007 Leigh Eddings (born Judith Leigh Schall), died following a series of strokes. She was 69. Eddings died of natural causes two years later.
After his death his surviving materials went to Reed College in Oregon, his Alma Mater, along with $18 million. He also left $10 million to the National Jewish Health center in Denver, Colorado for the research and treatment of childhood asthma, the largest gift in that organization's history.
(maintained with Eddings's papers at Reed College)
- Hunsacker's Ascent
- Chickenyard, A novel
- Gemini Conspiracy
- The Second Lady is Missing
- To Cage An Eagle
- This Warrior
- Guardians of the West
- King of the Murgos
- Demon Lord of Karanda
- Sorceress of Darshiva
- The Seeress of Kell
Books related to The Belgariad and The Malloreon
The Elenium and The Tamuli
Standalone fantasy novels
But his huge worldwide success and fame did not change Dave at all. .... he was unfailingly self-effacing on the subject of his success, once saying: 'I’m never going to be in danger of getting a Nobel Prize for literature, I’m a storyteller, not a prophet. I’m just interested in a good story'.