The Shining Wiki
  The Overlook Hotel clamed the most beautiful physical setting of any resort in the world; but Jack Torrance, the new winter caretaker, with his wife Wendy and their five-year-old son Danny, saw much more than its splendor.

  Jack saw the Overlook as an opportunity, a desparate way back from failure and dispair; Wendy saw this lonely sanctuary as a frail chance to preserve their family; and Danny?... Danny, who was blessed or cursed with a shining, precognitive gift, saw visions hideously beyond the comprehension of a small boy. He sensed the evil coiled with the Overlook's 110 empty rooms, an evil that was waiting just for them.

  The Shining, by Stephen King, the undisputed master of the modern horror story.

— First edition, dust jacket, inside flap

The Shining
General Information

Stephen King

Cover art

Dave Christensen


United States




Gothic novel
Psychological Horror

Release Information


Publication date

January 28, 1977

Media type(s)

Print - Hardcover





Followed by

Doctor Sleep

The Shining is the third book published by Stephen King; it is his third novel. The book was published by Doubleday in January 28, 1977.

This classic novel is arguably King's most famous story and piece of literature. It painfully deals with many of King's recurring themes, including alcoholism, domestic violence, misfit, yet gifted children and the insanity of authors. It has been made into an iconic horror movie of the same name, starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall and a miniseries that was aired on TV in the 90's. In 2016 the Minnesota Opera Company staged an opera based on both the novel and the 1980 movie. The production enjoyed strong reviews and sold out performances.

The book was followed in 2013 by the sequel Doctor Sleep.


Jack Torrance, a loving father when sober, is a temperamental alcoholic and aspiring writer. He is trying to rebuild his life after previously breaking his son Danny's arm 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 prove that he has recovered from alcoholism and is now a responsible person. Jack also plans to write a new play, believing the isolation will inspire him. Jack, his wife Wendy, and the clairvoyant Danny move into the Overlook. Jack's job was provided to him as a last chance by a close friend of his, Al Shockley, a fellow recovering alcoholic, who knows the hotel's board of trustees.

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 to make 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 his family's future. However, Danny realizes that his presence in the hotel makes it more powerful, and enables it to make objects and situations dangerous that would normally not be dangerous, like 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 on his play. 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. He quickly gets drunk, which allows the hotel to possess him more fully. The hotel attempts to use Jack to kill Wendy and Danny in order to absorb Danny's psychic abilities. Wendy and Danny manage to 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. She and Jack battle. Jack strikes Wendy with one of the hotel's roque mallets, breaking three ribs, a leg, 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 the injured and bleeding Jack in pursuit.

Hallorann, working at a winter resort in Florida, hears Danny's psychic call for help and rushes back to the Overlook. Hallorann's journey to Colorado is fraught with danger and obstacles, the chief being an intense snowstorm. He finally arrives at the hotel and enters the main lobby.

Jack leaves Wendy in the bathroom and ambushes Hallorann with the roque mallet, shattering his jaw and giving him a concussion, before setting off after Danny. Danny distracts Jack by saying "You're not my daddy," having realized that the Overlook had 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," before the hotel causes Jack to kill himself with the roque mallet. Danny tells the thing Jack has become that the unstable boiler is going to explode, and it rushes to the basement as Danny, Wendy, and Hallorann flee. Though the Jack-thing tries to relieve the pressure, the boiler explodes, destroying the Overlook. 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, is comforting Danny over the loss of his father while teaching him to fish in the ocean.


For a complete list of all characters in the book, see List of characters in The Shining (book).

  • Jack Torrance - The disturbed writer, and winter caretaker of the Overlook hotel
  • Wendy Torrance - His wife
  • Danny Torrance - Their son, who has the shining on a very powerful level.
  • Tony- Danny's imaginary friend who warns him not to go to the Overlook
  • Dick Hallorann - A cook at the Overlook who has the shining
  • Delbert Grady - A previous caretaker who killed his family and himself, and whose ghost urges Jack to do the same
  • Stuart Ullman - Present manager of the Overlook
  • Horace M. Derwent - Past owner of the Overlook


  • Danny's middle name is Anthony; his imaginary friend's name is Tony. This alludes to the idea that "Tony" is actually Danny as a grown up.
  • In the movie based on this book, Delbert Grady is named "Charles Grady".
  • Dick Hallorann appears in a flashback scene in Stephen King's novel It.


  • Blogger Joe McClatchey mentioned reading The Shining on his "Scarecrow Joe's Rants & Raves" blog in 2009.
  • In The Stand, the novel released after The Shining, Abagail Freemantle (Mother Abagail) says her grandmother referred to the gift of prophecy as "the shining lamp of God, sometimes just the shine."
  • In the book Misery, the remains of the burnt out Overlook Hotel are referred to.


The audiobook version of The Shining was read by Campbell Scott, who also read the audiobook version of Cell, Stephen King's 53rd book.


Deleted prologue and epilogue[]

Originally, there was a prologue titled "Before the Play" that chronicled earlier events in the Overlook's history, as well as an epilogue titled "After the Play", though neither remained part of the published novel. The prologue was later published in Whispers magazine in August 1982, and an abridged version appeared in the April 26–May 2, 1997 issue of TV Guide to promote the then-upcoming miniseries of The Shining. The epilogue was thought to have been lost, but was re-discovered in 2016 as part of an early manuscript version of the novel. Both "Before the Play" and "After the Play" will be published as part of the Deluxe Special Edition of The Shining by Cemetery Dance Publications in early 2017.


On November 19, 2009, during a reading at the Canon Theatre in Toronto, King described to the audience an idea for a sequel to The Shining. The idea was prompted by the occasional person asking, "What ever happened to Danny?" The story would follow Danny Torrance, now in his 40s, living in Vermont, where he works as an orderly at a hospice and helps terminally ill patients pass away with the aid of some extraordinary powers. 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).

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.

In 2011, King posted an update confirming that Doctor Sleep was in the works and that the plot included a traveling group of psychic vampires called The True Knot.

Doctor Sleep was published on September 24, 2013.

See also[]