15 Quotes Written by the Infamous Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson gives us fright even to this day! She paints gothic literature in darkness and intricate symbolism. Let’s celebrate her and her works!

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shirley Jackson with three books made from her right to left the lottery, the haunting of hill house, and We Have Always lived in the castle

Shirley Jackson is the queen of the scary and unusual. To many, she’s been called the queen of gothic horror by her well-acclaimed novels, The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, along with her eerie short story The Lottery, which is taught in high school classrooms and college courses. Stephen King, Donna Tartt, Neil Gaiman, and Joanne Harris have noted that Jackson has greatly influenced them in their spooky writing. Let’s reflect on 15 quotes she’s made in The Lottery, The Haunting of Hill House, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle!

The Lottery

The Lottery-- Shirley Jackson book quotes

1. “The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green.”

2. “Soon the men began to gather, surveying their own children, speaking of planting and rain, tractors and taxes. They stood together, away from the pile of stones in the corner, and their jokes were quiet and they smiled rather than laughed.”

3. “The black box grew shabbier each year: by now it was no longer completely black but splintered badly along one side to show the original wood color, and in some places faded or stained.”

4. “’Pack of crazy fools,’ he said. ‘Listening to the young folks, nothing’s good enough for them. Next thing you know, they’ll be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody work any more, live hat way for a while. Used to be a saying about ‘Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.’ First thing you know, we’d all be eating stewed chickweed and acorns. There’s always been a lottery,’ he added petulantly. ‘Bad enough to see young Joe Summers up there joking with everybody.”‘

5. “‘It isn’t fair, it isn’t right,’ Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her.’

The Lottery, Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House-- book cover

6. “No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.” 

7. “Am I walking toward something I should be running away from?” 

8. “Fear and guilt are sisters.” 

9. ‘”The great art of life is sensation, to feel that we exist, even in pain,’ said Lord Byron.” 

10. “Journeys end in lovers meeting; I have spent an all but sleepless night, I have told lies and made a fool of myself, and the very air tastes like wine. I have been frightened half out of my foolish wits, but I have somehow earned this joy; I have been waiting for it for so long.”

The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle-- book cover-- books

11. “I have often thought that with any luck at all, I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in our family is dead.”

12. “We eat the year away. We eat the spring and the summer and the fall. We wait for something to grow and then we eat it.” 

13. “Poor strangers, they have so much to be afraid of.” 

14. “Fate intervened. Some of us, that day, she led inexorably through the gates of death. Some of us, innocent and unsuspecting, took, unwillingly, that one last step to oblivion. Some of us took very little sugar.” 

15. “What are you reading, my dear? A pretty sight, a lady with a book.” 

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Shirley Jackson has created thought-provoking literature while also sharing the darkness hidden within people. She can easily make us feel sympathetic with her characters while also making us want to hide under the covers.

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