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Shirley Jackson Biography

(1919–65), The Lottery, The Haunting of Hill House, We Have always Lived in the Castle

American writer, born in San Francisco, educated at the University of Rochester. An acclaimed practitioner of the neogothic mode, she is best remembered for the title story of the collection The Lottery (1948), which introduces an element of horror into seemingly calm parochial surroundings—the title refers to the selection of a victim for a ritual sacrifice. In novels such as The Haunting of Hill House (1959; successfully filmed in 1963) and We Have always Lived in the Castle (1963), Jackson uses settings to create a sense of pervasive chill; the horror largely exists in the tormented minds of her protagonists. Traditional in her technique and manner of expression, Jackson, though long superceded by practitioners of more radical genres of horror, continues to be respected as a skilled exponent of the well-made tale of unease. Representative samples of her work can be found in The Magic of Shirley Jackson (1966).

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Robin’ [Iris Guiver Wilkinson] ‘Hyde Biography to Percy Janes Biography