Shirley Jackson was born in California in 1916. When her short story The Lottery was first published in the New Yorker in 1948, readers were so horrified they sent her hate mail; it has since become one of the most iconic American stories of all time. Her first novel, The Road Through the Wall, was published in the same year and was followed by Hangsaman, The Bird's Nest, The Sundial, The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, widely seen as her masterpiece. In addition to her dark, brilliant novels, she wrote lightly fictionalized magazine pieces about family life with her four children and her husband, the critic Stanley Edgar Hyman. Shirley Jackson died in 1965.
A housewife-mother's frustrations are transformed by a deft twist of the wrist into, not a grim account of disintegration and madness, still less the poisoning of her family, but light-hearted comedy -- Joyce Carol Oates Charming ... You'll see every parenting stance you've ever adopted, every parent-story trope you've ever told or heard, expressed more perfectly than you ever could have ... One of the great memoirists of family life * Slate * Warm and funny ... Read today, her pieces feel surprisingly modern - mainly because Jackson refuses to sentimentalize or idealize motherhood * The New York Times * As warm as it is hilarious and believable ... Never has the state of domestic chaos been so perfectly illuminated * The New York Times Book Review * Is it ironic or fitting that some of the greatest American writing about that venerated and difficult activity, motherhood, comes from a horror writer? ... There is something rather magical about how Jackson managed to so transform suffering into comic masterpieces * Guardian *