Today marks the birthday of Shirley Jackson, born on December 14, 1916. Known for her works of horror, her writing is enjoying a resurgence in popularity due to the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House, based on her book of the same name, and the 2018 movie adaptation of We Have Always Lived in the Castle.
Born in San Francisco, Shirley Jackson had a contentious relationship with her parents. She was regarded by her conservative parents as high-strung and “different,” leading her to identify as an outsider as a young child. She began writing short stories and poetry as a teenager and continued writing in college at Syracuse University, where her first short story “Janice” was published. Jackson married literary critic Stanley Hyman, settled in North Bennington, Vermont, and wrote stories and novels. Despite the themes of persecution, oppression, and hidden evil in the majority of her writing, she also wrote lighthearted articles about family life for Good Housekeeping and Woman’s Home Companion.
Numerous health problems took their toll and Shirley Jackson passed away at the age of 48 of heart failure in 1965. Throughout her life, she published two memoirs, six novels, and numerous short stories. Are you a fan of psychological suspense or horror fiction? Borrow one of her books from our catalog.
The basis for the popular Netflix series of the same name, The Haunting of Hill House tells the story of four characters, their investigation of the paranormal events of Hill House, and the effects that the house has on all of them.
The Lottery is perhaps Shirley Jackson’s best-known short story; if you haven’t read it since high school, read it again, along with 24 more of Jackson’s powerful short stories.
The three remaining members of the Blackwood family live in isolation from their small Vermont community; when an estranged relative comes for a visit, the family doubts his motives and a rift develops.
Horror and suspense aren’t for everyone; if humor is more to your liking, Life Among the Savages is Jackson’s lighter take on her home, neighborhood and family life.