Reading lists

Where to start with Shirley Jackson’s books

Some thought Shirley Jackson was a witch, others dismissed her as an alcoholic… but more still call her the greatest horror writer of the 20th Century.

Covers of Shirley Jackson's books, including The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Image by Ryan MacEachern/Penguin
Image: Ryan MacEachern/Penguin

Dismissed variously as a frumpy housewife, an oddball and a ‘genre writer’ by the male literary establishment, Shirley Jackson was overlooked for decades despite writing formidable relevant gothic horror stories full of menace. Despite dying relatively early at 48, she wrote prolifically and penned what the New Yorker's editors said was ‘probably the most controversial story [the magazine] has ever published’. It’s time we gave Jackson the credit she deserves, so read on for where to start with the woman who wrote "not with a pen, but a broomstick"…

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