On December 14, 1916, Shirley Hardie Jackson was born to an affluent family in San Francisco. As soon as she learned to write, she began to pen poems, eventually winning a poetry contest at age twelve. In 1933, her family moved east to Rochester, New York, where Shirley went to high school and then on to the University of Rochester. She withdrew after two years, in part because of the tendency to depression which would haunt her for the rest of her life. During this hiatus from college, she developed a discipline of writing at least one thousand words every day.
In 1937, she enrolled in Syracuse University. She initially majored in journalism but then switched to an English major with a minor in speech. She published numerous pieces in school magazines over the following two years. A vehicle for her unconventional outlook was developed when she and two classmates started the literary campus magazine The Spectre. One of these classmates was Stanley Edgar Hyman, who would eventually become her husband.
Jackson and Hyman married after graduation in 1940, and moved to New York City, where Hyman got a job with The New Republic. Jackson worked at Macy’s department store for a short time. This experience formed the basis of her first nationally published short story “My Life with R. H. Macy.” Between 1942 and 1951, Jackson published almost twenty stories and two novels, gave birth to four children, and moved twice. Her famous...
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Because Jackson chose to handle unusual topics, such as psychosis and ghostly apparitions, some literary critics relegated her to a minor status. Both horror and humor are sometimes considered to be slightly disreputable genres, and many of Jackson’s works are categorized as these types. Jackson’s complete mastery of the writing craft, however, enabled her to achieve well-deserved commercial and critical success.
Shirley Jackson was born in California on December 14, 1916, and moved with her family to New York when she was sixteen. After an unsuccessful year at the University of Rochester, Jackson enrolled, at age twenty, in the University of Syracuse. This was to be the beginning of an independent life for the author, as she would finally be away from the dominating presence of her mother. At Syracuse, Jackson met Stanley Edgar Hyman, the man she would marry in 1940. Hyman achieved notoriety in his own right as a teacher, writer, and critic. The marriage between Jackson and Hyman was tumultuous in many ways but provided a stabilizing factor for Jackson. Her literary production increased markedly after the marriage and the birth of their...
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