Shirley Jackson, born in 1916, was most well known for her short story, The Lottery. While the short story is certainly amazing, it is far from her only work. She primarily wrote in the horror mystery gothic genre, including about 200+ short stories and several novels, two of which were memoirs. Let’s take a look at some of them.
The neighborhood of Pepper Street is a wonderful, safe place in California. It’s a classic suburb with tidy houses and yards, a nearby country club, and, of course, full of good people. But a wall was knocked down at the end of the street in order to build a new road to a new housing development. And that’s just not how it’s done! In this satirical novel, Jackson explores suburbs and what happens when they have to confront ugly truths.
17-year-old Natalie Waite can’t wait to go to college to escape her domineering father, who is always getting on Natalie and her mother. But when Natalie does go to college, it isn’t what she expected, nor does it make her happy. As time goes on, she becomes less sure about what’s real and what she’s imagining. This novel is based both on Jackson’s own life experiences and the 1946 disappearance of college sophomore Paula Welden.
In this charming memoir, Jackson explores a different kind of fright than usual: raising kids. In this lighter-than-usual work, she explores small-town life in her family memoir, showing readers the surprising and cheerful contrast between her life and her fiction. With her sharp wit and writing abilities, she turned her charming family experiences into a brilliant story.
Elizabeth is a reserved young woman who is working at a dull museum, living with her strange aunt, and only staying afloat because of her deceased mother’s inheritance. One day, she starts suffering from migraines and back pain, so she sees a doctor and then a psychiatrist when that doesn’t work. Slowly, readers learn a shocking truth — Elizabeth has four self-destructive, separate personalities.
The Halloran family gathers together at the family home for a funeral. During this, the strange Aunt Fanny wandered into the house’s secret garden. No one was surprised. But when she comes back, she tells them about a shocking vision of an apocalypse, where only the Hallorans and those associated with them would survive. The family experiences fear, madness, and violence as they try to get ready for this new world.
This novel is considered one of the best haunted house works and is perfect in its unnerving terror. It’s about four people at the famously hostile Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar seeking evidence that hauntings are real; Theodora, Dr. Montague’s assistant; Eleanor, a frail young woman who is very familiar with poltergeists; and Luke, who will one day inherit the house. At first, they just experience spooky, unexplained phenomena. But as Hill House gathers power, it may choose to claim one of them.
Three Blackwoods — Constance, Uncle Julian, and Mary Katherine (Merricat) — live in isolation after four family members died six years ago from arsenic poisoning. Merricat uses rules and magic to protect the mansion from the villagers, but this changes when Cousin Charles manages to come into their lives. He is looking to take the Blackwood fortune; Merricat is looking to get him out by any means necessary.
The story starts on a day when a blue sun rose in a green sky, and then dozens of balloons started flying from all the trees. Then a magician wearing a long black coat and starry hat came along, and everything became strangers. He chose a child to grant nine wishes to, and each is more amazing than before: an orange pony that has a purple tail, a garden full of candy flowers, a zoo that could fit in their pocket, and more playful wishes.
Come Along With Me is an unfinished novel about a widow’s inner life. Sixteen stories and three of her lectures are included along with this unfinished novel. The collection has a variety of Jackson’s works — including The Lottery — that go beyond her horror works and show her full writing range. This collection was published in 1968, three years after her death in 1965.
This collection was published in 1996. Not long after her death, her kids found some of her unpublished stories, and several of them are included here. These stories show Jackson’s explorations of madness, cruelty, torment, psychological abnormalities, and lighter, humorous works about domesticity. The collection celebrates her influence on modern writing and shows the range and complexity of her writing.
While this is not a complete list of Jackson’s works, it is at least a starting point.
For an article on great Shirley Jackson quotes, click here.
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