Often cited as being an influence on a diverse set of authors including Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Joanne Harris and Richard Matheson, Shirley Hardie Jackson, an American author known primarily for her works on horror and mystery. She composed six novels, two memoirs, and over 200 short stories in a career spanning over 20 years. The author passed away at the age of 48, on August 8, 1965.
Jackson who first attained fame for her short story The Lottery, which details a secret, sinister underside to a bucolic American village, had over the years published a number of stellar works, including her memoir Life Among the Savages and the much-acclaimed The Haunting of Hill, widely considered to be one of the best ghost stories ever written.
On her 54th death anniversary, here’s looking at 5 of her most acclaimed works.
The Haunting of Hill House (1959)
The gothic horror novel, which according to author Stephen King is, one of the most important horror novels of the twentieth century, sees the author relying on terror rather than horror to elicit emotion in the reader. Jackson made use of complex relationships between the mysterious events in the house and the characters’ psyches to create the startling masterpiece.
The Sundial (1958)
Many critics believe the house presented in The Sundial might foreshadow the infamous Hill House in The Haunting of Hill House. The Sundial tells the story of the residents of the Halloran house, opening on the evening of the funeral of Lionel Halloran, the house’s master.
The Road Through the Wall (1948)
Jackson debut novel was loosely based on her childhood, growing up in an affluent California neighbourhood. The author had once admitted that she wrote the book, in part, to get back at her parents, whom she resented for their narrow-mindedness and greed.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962)
It was Jackson’s final work, and was published with a dedication to Pascal Covici, the publisher, three years before the author’s death in 1965. The novel is written in the voice of eighteen-year-old Mary Katherine “Merricat” Blackwood, who lives with her sister and uncle on an estate in Vermont. Six years before the events of the novel, the Blackwood family experienced a tragedy that left the three survivors isolated from the rest of their small village.
The Lottery and Other Stories (1949)
The story ‘The Lottery’describes a fictional small town in contemporary America which observes an annual rite known as “the lottery”. The purpose of the lottery is to choose a human sacrificial victim to be stoned to death to ensure the community’s continued well being.