ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Books, Literature, and Writing

Shirley Jackson

Updated on September 11, 2014

Shirley Hardie Jackson

Who is She?

Born in San Francisco to Leslie and Geraldine Jackson, Shirley Jackson grew up in the affluent middle-class suburb of Burlingame (which would later be featured in her first novel The Road Through the Hall.) In 1939 the family moved to Rochester, NY where Shirley attended the University of Rochester before being "asked to leave". She went on to graduate with a BA from Syracuse University in 1940.

While still a student, Shirley became active in the campus literary magazine. It was there that she met her husband Stanley Edgar Hyman, who became a noted literary critic. The couple was married in 1940. The couple had four children; the adventures of raising her brood were later collected in the books Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons.

Her rise to literary fame came in 1948 when The Lottery was published. She would pen the novels The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, along with more short stories.

Much of her work had a mystery or magical theme.

The Lottery

"There's always been a lottery."

Published on June 28, 1948 in The New Yorker magazine, 'The Lottery' introduced readers to Ms. Jackson's particular brand of Gothic horror.

The story, set in rural small-town USA, delves into the seemingly unchanged ways and mindset of the townsfolk. Unable, or unwilling, to change that which has been set down for generations, the tradition carried out by the town shocked readers.

Hundreds of letters from readers slammed the mail room at The New Yorker. Sharp criticism and outrage at such a "violent" story being published filled the letters penned by readers. Phone calls poured and hundreds canceled subscriptions in disgust.

Shirley Jackson's reputation was set, made by one short story. The huge response to 'The Lottery' by readers has been matched since its publication. The story has since been banned by the Union of South Africa and is frequently on the list of banned books in American schools and libraries.

The video for Marilyn Manson's single Man That You Fear was based upon Shirley Jackson's story "The Lottery". See if you can find the similarities!

Her Last Years

Shirley suffered throughout her life from various neuroses and psychosomatic illnesses. She also was overweight and a heavy smoker. Her health declined and in 1965, Shirley died of heart failure in her sleep.

She was only 48.

For years, Shirley had claimed her birthday was in 1919, to appear younger than her husband. Biographer Judy Oppenheimer, who wrote Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson discovered that in fact Shirley was born in 1916.

Jackson's work continues to inspire readers and be adapted to the silver screen years after her untimely death.

Just An Ordinary Day

Just an Ordinary Day: Stories
Just an Ordinary Day: Stories

A posthumous collection of 54 short stories (many that went unpublished during her life time) collected and edited by two of Shirley Jackson's children.


Partial Bibliography

The Road Through the Wall (1948)
The Hangsman (1950)
The Bird's Nest (1954)
The Sundial (1958)
The Haunting of Hill House (1959)
We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962)

Life Among the Savages (1953)
Raising Demons (1957)

Children's Books
The Witchcraft of Salem Village (non-fiction, 1956)
The Bad Children: A Musical in One Act for Bad Children (1959)
9 Magic Wishes (1963)
Famous Sally (1966)

Collected Volumes
The Lottery and Other Stories (1949)
The Magic of Shirley Jackson (1966)
Come Along With Me (1968)
Just An Ordinary Day (1995)

Life-long fans or newly introduced, tell us your favorite work of Ms Jackson!

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 2 years ago from East Coast, United States

      You've piqued my interest. I'd love to read "The Lottery". Read the "Haunting of Hill House" when I was young, and of course saw both movies. How sad that she died so young.

    • LillyGrillzit profile image

      Lori J Latimer 2 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

      This made my day. Thank you. I am a Shirley Jackson fan. I LOVE the Marilyn Manson Video, and the knowledge of where his inspiration came from. We Need a Shirley Jackson Revival!

    • dlobel profile image

      Debra Lobel 4 years ago from Oakland, CA

      One of my favorite authors. Thanks for the lens.

    • Seasons Greetings profile image

      Laura Brown 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I first read "We Have Always Lived in the Castle" when I was a young teen. I've never forgotten it and have even read it over again. I usually have so many other books I want to read. I almost never read anything a second time.

    • hunksparrow profile image

      hunksparrow 6 years ago

      I still remember the first time I read The Lottery and how I just stared at the last page with my jaw dropped. What was great is that no one remembered how or why the lottery began. Excellent lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I haven't read any of Shirley Jackson's work, but you make me want to. Blessed by an Angel today.

    • CoolFoto profile image

      CoolFoto 8 years ago

      Read "The Lottery" in high school or at U of Michigan, don't remember which. Never knew that it was banned. Also didn't know it was classified as Goth.

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 8 years ago

      The Haunting of Hill House! I remember reading this as a teen. The movie was OK, but I prefer paper.

      Nicely done!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      wow i love you :)

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 9 years ago from USA

      Thank you for adding this great lens to the Gothic Temptations group.