Shirley Jackson - Life Stories, Books, and Links
Biographical Information

Stories about Shirley Jackson

Selected works by this author

Selected books about / related to this author

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Picture of Shirley Jackson, author of The Haunting of Hill House; twentieth century American Gothic Literature
Shirley Jackson   (1916 - 1965)
Category:  American Literature
Born:  December 14, 1916
San Francisco, California, United States
Died:  August 8, 1965
North Bennington, Vermont, United States
Related authors:
John Cheever
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Shirley Jackson - LIFE STORIES
8/8/1965     Shirley Jackson, Humor & Horror
On this day in 1965, Shirley Jackson died of heart failure, at the age of forty-eight. For twenty years and from various angles Jackson had built a reputation for quietly ripping the lid off life in Pleasantville; by the end, a tangle of physical and mental ailments made her feel unable to venture out into her own town of Bennington, Vermont.
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Life Among the Savages
Raising Demons
The Haunting of Hill House
The Lottery and Other Stories
anthology, fiction
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Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson
by Judy Oppenheimer
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A Reading of Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery"
An interesting essay examines Marxist undertones in Jackson's famous novel.

"First, the lottery's rules of participation reflect and codify a rigid social hierarchy based upon an inequitable social division of labor. Second, the fact that everyone participates in the lottery and understands consciously that its outcome is pure chance give it a certain 'democratic' aura that obscures its first codifying function. Third, the villagers believe unconsciously that their commitment to a work ethic will grant them some magical immunity from selection. Fourth, this work ethic prevents them from understanding that the lottery's actual function is not to encourage work per se but to reinforce an inequitable social division of labor. ... The lottery's democratic illusion, then, is an ideological effect that prevents the villagers from criticizing the class structure of their society. But this illusion alone does not account for the full force of the lottery over the village. The lottery also reinforces a village work ethic which distracts the villagers' attention from the division of labor that keeps women powerless in their homes and Mr. Summers powerful in his coal company office."
Johnathem Letham examines the two faces of Shirley Jackson in a 1997 article "Monstrous acts and little murders":

"... [One] half of Jackson was a character she brought brilliantly to life in her stories and novels from the beginning: the shy girl, whose identity slips all too easily from its foundations. The other half of Jackson was the expulsive iconoclast, brought out of her shell by marriage to Hyman.... This second Shirley Jackson dedicated herself to rejecting her mother's sense of propriety, drank and smoked and fed to buttery excess — directly to blame for her and her husband's early deaths — dabbled in magic and voodoo, and interfered loudly when she thought the provincial Vermont schools were doing an injustice to her talented children. This was the Shirley Jackson that the town feared, resented and, depending on whose version you believe, occasionally persecuted."
Tabula Rasa
Find a biographical survey of books including The Lottery, or, The Adventures of James Harris, Daemon Lover, The Sundial, The Haunting of Hill House, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

"Ms Jackson was often described as a New England witch. It made wonderful copy to say she wrote with a broomstick for a pen, kept six black cats and believed she had caused the accident of an enemy by making a wax image of him with a broken leg. That story was told in her obituary by a friend, the critic Brendan Gill. But for the books, it were perhaps better to call her a sorcerer, because sorcery is the process of manipulating a person's beliefs. ... To say Shirley Jackson is a psychological novelist, and that the horror in her stories comes from the increasingly skewed perceptions of her protagonists, fails to suggest the sheer power these vision have. Shirley Jackson manipulates people's beliefs. There are no real things and illusory things. To quote The Sundial; 'And anyway, that world isn't any more real than this one.'"
The Works of Shirley Jackson
A useful bibliographic resource offers an extensive listing of works by and about the author, including literary criticism and analysis. With links to related websites, and a short timeline of events in Jackson's life.
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February 19, 2018
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