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Bio Sketch

By carsonha May 13, 2014 792 Words

Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson was born in San Francisco on December 14, 1916. Jackson spent most of her childhood in Burlingame, California where she began writing poetry and short stories. Jackson attended Syracuse University in 1973, and during this year she published her first short story “Janice.” During her time spent at Syracuse University she met her husband, Stanley Edgar Hyman. Jackson and Hyman together founded a literary magazine known as “Spectre.” Both Jackson and Hyman graduated from Syracuse University in 1940 and moved to New York City (Allen). In 1948, Jackson’s first novel “The Road Through The Wall” was published and that same year The New Yorker published Jackson’s iconic story “The Lottery.” In 1951, Jackson began publishing a succession of Gothic novels such as “Hangsaman” and “The Summer People.” In 1959, Jackson published “The Haunting of Hill House,” which became her best known novel. Twice the novel has been adapted for films. Shortly after publishing “The Haunting of Hill House” another one of Jackson’s novels, “We Have Always Lived In The Castle” was published in 1962. “We Have Always Lived In The Castle” became Shirley Jacksons best-selling novel. Three Years after publishing her best-selling novel Shirley Jackson passed away in 1965 (Allen). Shirley Jackson was one of the most influential authors of the twentieth century and is well known for her novels and stories involving the supernatural. Jackson’s popular short story “The Lottery” takes place in a small village of about 300 residents and focuses on their annual ritual of evil (“Summary of the Lottery”). Annually the lottery takes place and the person with the marked slip is stoned to death. Response to the story was negative but it is now a classic American short story. This short story is a good subject for critical interpretations and is commonly taught in middle schools and high schools since its publication in 1948. The popular novel “The Haunting of Hill House” is one Jackson’s most popular novels. “It has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror” (Miller). It is the story of four investigators of the supernatural and Hill House is the destination. Dr. Montague hopes to find specific evidence of supernatural existence at Hill House with the help of his guests. They stay at Hill House, a house with a violent history of death and suicides. Throughout their stay the guests begin to encounter strange events as Hill House begins stretching its supernatural muscles. One of the guests, Eleanor, becomes possessed and begins to feel as if she and the house are one. She is forced to leave the house but resists when pushed into the car and as she is leaving she is killed when her car crashes into a live oak tree on the property. The novel forces one to question whether Eleanor’s death was because she was a mentally disturbed individual or if supernatural beings really ruled the house. Jackson’s best-selling novel “We Have Always Lived In The Castle” “is a unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the struggle that ensues when a cousinarrives at their estate” (McKillip). The story is told through “Merricat Blackwood” who lives with her older sister Constance and their ailing Uncle Julian. The three live in a large house in isolation from the nearby village (McKillip). Constance never leaves the home and cares for the ailing uncle who writes obsessively for his memoir. Through his writing events of the past are unveiling, including what happened to the remainder of the Blackwood family. Both Blackwood parents and the younger brother were murdered. Constance was accused and then acquitted of the crime and now the family is ostracized. Merricat is the families only contact with the outside world. An estranged cousin comes to visit, Charles, and begins to woo Constance in order to steal the family money. Angered by Charles, Merricat shoves his smoldering pipe into a wastebasket full of paper which sets fire to the home. The home is damaged by the fire and the villagers that resented the Blackwoods and threw rocks which shattered the windows and almost attacking the sisters, forcing Constance and Merricat to flee. Uncle Julian is killed in the fire and Constance and Merricat flee to the woods where Constance finds out Merricat murdered the family. The two return to the home and begin their lives anew in the house without a roof and they choose to remain alone, unseen by the rest of the world.


Allen, Linda. "Shirley Jackson." . N.p., 1 Jan. 2009. Web. 12 May 2014. .

McKillip, Patricia. "Book Review: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson." . N.p., 19 Nov. 2012. Web. 12 May 2014. .

Miller, Laura. "." . Penguin Classics, n.d. Web. 12 May 2014. .

"Summary of the Lottery by Shirley Jackson." . N.p., 1 Mar. 2011. Web. 12 May 2013. .

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