Born in Spokane, Washington, in 1931, Eddings grew up near Puget Sound. 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 from high school in 1949, he worked for a year before majoring in speech, drama and English at junior college. Eddings displayed an early talent for drama and literature, winning a national oratorical contest, and performing the male lead in most of his drama productions. He graduated with a BA from Reed College in 1954 and an MA from the University of Washington in 1961. He wrote a novel for a thesis at Reed College before being drafted into the U.S. Army.
After several years as a college lecturer, a failure to receive a pay raise drove Eddings to leave his job, move to Denver and seek work in a grocery store. He also began work on his first published novel High Hunt, 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, Eddings 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 He worked on several unpublished novels, including Hunseeker’s Ascent, a story about mountain climbing, which was later burned as Eddings claimed it was, "a piece of tripe so bad it even bored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, tells the story of God and the Devil, cast in the roles of a one-eyed Indian and Jake Flood. It was not published until June 1992, well after Eddings's success as an author was established, although it was written in the seventies.
Eddings'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 Eddings did not realize it until several years later. Upon seeing a copy of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, in a bookshop, he allegedly muttered, "Is this old turkey still floating around?" and was shocked to learn that it was in its seventy-eighth printing. Eddings realized that the world of fantasy might hold some promise for his talents, and immediately began to annotate his previously forgotten doodle.
On January 26, 2007 it was reported that Eddings accidentally burned about a quarter of his office, next door to his house, 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 it into the puddle to test if it was still flammable. When asked to explain it to the firefighter he said "One word comes to mind. Dumb."
On February 28, 2007, David Eddings' wife, Leigh Eddings (born Judith Leigh Schall), whom he married in 1962, died following a series of strokes. She was 69.
Eddings resided in Carson City, Nevada, where he died of natural causes on June 2, 2009. Dennis, Eddings' brother, confirmed that in his last months, Eddings had been working on a manuscript that was unlike any of his other works, stating "It was very, very different. I wouldn’t call it exactly a satire of fantasy but it sure plays with the genre". The unfinished work, along with his other well renowned manuscripts, will go to his alma mater, Reed College in Portland, Ore., along with a bequest of $18 million to fund "students and faculty studying languages and literature." Eddings also bequeathed $10 million dollars to National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver for pediatric-asthma treatment and research. Edding's wife Leigh had asthma throughout her life before she died in 2007.
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