Note (2) S.J.

Shirley Jackson: (Noun) Shirley Jackson was a writer. It was her work and she did it every day. When asked about life with her mother, one of her daughters wrote: “there was always the sound of typing”.  Shirley Jackson wrote stories, short novels, and humorous non-fiction pieces about her family (usually for women’s magazines, and then in two memoirs about child-rearing). She wrote one story that is now a classic, but most people don’t know who she is. Those that do probably had to read her story “The Lottery” in a high school English class, but have never read any other stories or novels, and probably don’t know that when “The Lottery” was published in the New Yorker, the magazine received hundreds of letters, mostly angry and disgusted, she claimed. The people in her stories were sometimes oddballs living in cramped apartments, whip-smart teenaged girls, housewives trying to do the right thing and failing miserably, retail workers, impressionable children. Many of her characters live outside of “normal” society. They rent rooms in boarding houses or work in stuffy offices, trying to get out of their bubbles, but unable to make it. Jackson was an oddball herself, in a way, according to the New England academics she lived among (associates of her husband, the critic and teacher Stanley Hyman). She propagated the view of herself as strange, claiming outright to have dabbled in witchcraft. Her novels The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle (among others) did little to disprove the belief. But she was very serious about writing, and wrote without considering genre. The point was to write well. Her stories are strange, moving, and still relevant.

Synonym: Mrs. Stanley Hyman

Selected Works:

The Lottery and Other Stories

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

The Haunting of Hill House

Come Along with Me


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