Creator / Shirley Jackson

"I delight in what I fear."

Shirley Hardie Jackson (1916–1965) was an American author known for her dark stories of mystery and horror.

Jackson's best-known work is the short story "The Lottery", about the dark underside of American small-town life, which has been adapted to film three times. Her novel The Haunting of Hill House has been adapted for film twice, and several of her other works have been adapted for the stage or screen. She only wrote about half-a-dozen novels, but was a prolific short-story author.

In 2007, the Shirley Jackson Award for outstanding achievement in psychological suspense and dark fantasy was created in her honor.

Works with a page on this wiki:

Other works include:

  • Hangsaman (1951)
  • The Bird's Nest (1954)
  • The Road Through the Wall (her first novel, 1948)
  • The Sundial (1958)

Tropes in her other works:

  • Deal with the Devil:
    • In "The Smoking Room", the Devil appears to a wily college girl and her roommate. After discovering that the Devil Never Learned to Read, the girls quickly draw up a contract they insist is more legally binding, convince the Devil to give them several million dollars and passing grades in calculus, then have him sign it. Only then they reveal that, amid the legalese, the contract actually states that the Devil has agreed to grant their wishes and give them his soul—for a dollar.
    • "Devil of a Tale" sets the same theme in medieval times, with a much darker outcome.
  • Horny Devil: A recurrent figure in Jackson's short story is a mysterious man in blue calling himself James Harris, who may or may not be a supernatural creature. Though he rarely appears directly, women seduced by him abandoned their lives and families to pursue him...only to find themselves stranded and alone when he vanishes. (The original edition of her short story collection The Lottery was even subtitled "The Adventures of James Harris" and the collection ends with the ballad of the Daemon Lover.)
  • Lovecraft Country: Jackson lived most of her adult life in Vermont, and many of her stories have the requisite flinty creepiness.
  • Mistaken for an Imposter: The short story "Louisa, Please Come Home" concerns a nineteen-year-old girl who runs away from home and returns three years later only to find that she Can't Go Home Again. Because her family thinks she's an imposter after the reward money. Dramatic Irony ensues.
  • Rape as Drama: Natalie Waite in Hangsaman flirts with a man at her father's cocktail party and he drags her off. In so many words, the narrative reveals that he raped her. When she gets to college, she refuses to tell a gathering of the school's Girl Posse whether she's a virgin.
  • Spooky Séance: Angela in the never-finished Come Along With Me holds a seance. She's a real medium; spirits constantly come to her, but it's very random, so she's not even always sure if she's talking to the loved ones of her sitters. The messages she does get don't fit their preconceived notions, and they leave unsatisfied.
  • Verbal Tic: In The Road Through the Wall, Beverly, a young girl with an unspecified mental disability, tends to repeat entire sentences.