Shirley Jackson, the Queen of Gothic Horror, is celebrating what would be her 105th birthday! Famous for her works like “The Lottery” and The Haunting of Hill House, Jackson is one of the most prolific writers in her genre. The iconic writer is nothing if not a little bizarre, so most fans wouldn’t be surprised by anything she does, not even some of her creepiest and bizarre quotes. Check out these little-known facts about this incredible writer!
Jackson is Distantly Related to Revolutionary War Hero Nathanael Greene
Greene was one of George Washington’s most, most trusted officers and was the Commander of the Continental Army in the southern theatre. Jackson is related to Greene on her mother Geraldine’s side. Although her mother was always a bit harsh on Jackson, even stating that she would have preferred a pretty daughter.
Even though the family history might be a little rough in spots, it is still interesting to see how American icons seem to come in families.
Her Grandmother Was a Christian Science Practitioner
Jackson was famous for dabbling in witchcraft and the occult in her lifetime. Newspapers could not get enough of her wacky, witchy ways. But her grandmother believed heavily in a belief system called Christian Science, which believes that prayer can heal all medical conditions. She had her own “medical” practice and also practiced these healing methods on members of the family
Although Jackson was said to be critical of her grandmother’s religiosity, straying from the norm definitely stayed in her blood. Jackson often described herself as an amateur witch and never felt the need to live within society’s expectations.
Jackson Published a Children’s Book Before Her Death
Although Jackson is famous for her contributions to horror and psychological fiction, just before her death, she published the children’s book Nine Magic Wishes. This book was a huge departure from her other work, as this book is not only for children, but it’s illustrated too.
The story centers around a child who meets a strange magician who begins granting him wishes. Each of his nine wishes grows in fantasy, becoming larger and larger than the last. The cute and whimsical nature of this story really sets it apart from the other stories on Jackson’s bibliography.
In 2007, The Shirley Jackson Awards Were Established
In an effort to preserve her legacy, The Shirley Jackson Awards were established in 2007. The award is presented at ReaderCon each year for outstanding works of horror, psychological suspense, and dark fantasy.
A jury of professional writers chooses the best novels, novellas, short stories, and more in the genres that Jackson thrived in. Books like Emma Cline’s The Girls and The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones have been honored in recent years. The awards honor not only the books that receive them but also celebrate one of the most prolific horror writers of all time.
There is a Movie About Her “Fictional” Life
Although this film was not a massive hit, it does boast a fairly impressive cast. Elisabeth Moss portrays Jackson and Michael Stuhlbarg plays her husband Stanley Edgar Hyman. The film is based on the 2014 book Shirley: A Novel, in which a fictional couple moves in with Jackson.
Although the film is not truly an accurate representation of her life, it is an interesting dissection of Jackson as a character. The film, directed by Josephine Decker, takes a unique look at this classic horror author.