She had a daughter called Selena St. George and an abusive husband named Joe.
Dolores worked as a maid doing odd jobs around Little Tall Island. Dolores marries Joe St. George, who later becomes an alcoholic and violently abuses her. Dolores later has a daughter, named Selena, and worries constantly that Joe will take his frustrations and violent temper out on her when she gets older. She is hired by wealthy widow Vera Donovan, who treated her very cruelly, often adding to the stress of Dolores's troubled home life. One day, Dolores broke down crying and Vera caught her. Vera asked what was wrong and Dolores confided in her how her husband, Joe St. George, was beating her. Vera then formed a friendship with Dolores, revealing that she had killed her husband (who was also abusive) and made it look like an accident. She told Dolores to do the same with Joe, so as not to have her daughter, Selena, get abused as well. On the day of a solar eclipse, Dolores gets Joe drunk and then tricks him into falling down a boarded-up well in their front yard. Dolores then killed him by dropping a rock on his head, making it look like he had gotten drunk and fallen down the well. Dolores and Vera then become lifelong friends with a love-hate relationship. At the end of her lifetime, the senile Vera decides to commit suicide by wheeling herself down the staircase in her home. However, this suicide attempt fails, leaving Vera injured badly. Vera calls out to Dolores, asking her to kill her so she won't suffer. Dolores obliges by beating her to death with a stone rolling pin, and after she is finished, she is spotted by the mailman, who calls the police on Dolores, who tells her story and is later found not guilty of Vera's death. She then lives off of Vera's insurance policy, made out to Dolores, her only friend.
Kathy Bates has said that playing Dolores Claiborne is her favorite film role, although she played Annie Wilkes in another Stephen King movie, Misery, and won several awards including an Oscar for her work.