IntroductionIf you’re like most people, when you hear the name Shirley Jackson, you think of two words: “The Lottery.” This darkly ironic story has been sparking controversy since it was first published in The New Yorker in 1948, when hundreds of people wrote letters in response. Many were openly confused by the story, and some were downright abusive; Jackson has said that only about a dozen of the letters struck a positive note. Though “The Lottery” is striking, its success was a mixed blessing for Jackson. The sheer amount of attention given to that one story can overshadow the extensive body of work she produced, just as her work’s dark tone and disturbing subject matter sometimes let people miss its high literary quality.
- Jackson attended the University of Rochester but didn’t graduate. She dropped out due to depression and grappled with mental issues, including psychosomatic illnesses, her entire life.
- Jackson was married to Stanley Edgar Hyman, a literary critic who taught at Bennington College in Vermont. They had four children. Jackson’s stories about her experience raising these children are collected in Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons.
- Many of Jackson’s works transform her experience into fiction, often taking a humorous or ironic approach to what she herself had been through. Her first published story, “My Life With R. H. Macy,” is a good example of this; it makes light of her time working in a department store.
- South Africa banned “The Lottery.” When they did, Jackson said that it was a sign that they, at least, understood the story.
- Her book The Haunting of Hill House was nominated for a National Book Award in 1960, a rare honor for a horror novel.
All Resources by Category
- Shirley Jackson - Critical Survey of Short Fiction
- The Haunting of Hill House Criticism
- The Lottery - Criticism
- Charles (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
- The Haunting of Hill House quickNotes
- The Lottery - Masterplots II: Short Story Series
- The Lottery Study Guide (eNotes)
- The Lottery; or, The Adventures of James Harris quickNotes
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