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Shirley Jackson : A Rather Haunted Life - Ruth Franklin

Shirley Jackson

A Rather Haunted Life

Hardcover Published: 27th September 2016
ISBN: 9780871403131
Number Of Pages: 624

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Still known to millions primarily as the author of the "The Lottery," Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) has been curiously absent from the mainstream American literary canon. A genius of literary suspense and psychological horror, Jackson plumbed the cultural anxiety of postwar America more deeply than anyone. Now, biographer Ruth Franklin reveals the tumultuous life and inner darkness of the author of such classics as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle.Placing Jackson within an American Gothic tradition that stretches back to Hawthorne and Poe, Franklin demonstrates how her unique contribution to this genre came from her focus on "domestic horror." Almost two decades before The Feminine Mystique ignited the women's movement, Jackson' stories and nonfiction chronicles were already exploring the exploitation and the desperate isolation of women, particularly married women, in American society. Franklin's portrait of Jackson gives us "a way of reading Jackson and her work that threads her into the weave of the world of words, as a writer and as a woman, rather than excludes her as an anomaly" (Neil Gaiman).The increasingly prescient Jackson emerges as a ferociously talented, determined, and prodigiously creative writer in a time when it was unusual for a woman to have both a family and a profession. A mother of four and the wife of the prominent New Yorker critic and academic Stanley Edgar Hyman, Jackson lived a seemingly bucolic life in the New England town of North Bennington, Vermont. Yet, much like her stories, which channeled the occult while exploring the claustrophobia of marriage and motherhood, Jackson's creative ascent was haunted by a darker side. As her career progressed, her marriage became more tenuous, her anxiety mounted, and she became addicted to amphetamines and tranquilizers. In sobering detail, Franklin insightfully examines the effects of Jackson's California upbringing, in the shadow of a hypercritical mother, on her relationship with her husband, juxtaposing Hyman's infidelities, domineering behavior, and professional jealousy with his unerring admiration for Jackson's fiction, which he was convinced was among the most brilliant he had ever encountered.Based on a wealth of previously undiscovered correspondence and dozens of new interviews, Shirley Jackson-an exploration of astonishing talent shaped by a damaging childhood and turbulent marriage-becomes the definitive biography of a generational avatar and an American literary giant.

Industry Reviews

"... lively and authoritative new biography." -- The Economist
"This new biography... could not be more welcome or timely... Her [Ruth Franklin's] critical grasp of Jackson's oeuvre is superlative and you do not doubt a word she says: this is most definitely an exhaustive biography." -- Julie Myerson - The Spectator
"...Ruth Franklin skilfully and with great verve and readability paints a portrait of a woman with many faces in this slick and stylish biography." -- The Mail on Sunday
"Franklin... gives equal weight to Jackson's life and work in this groundbreaking new biography." -- Jane Ciabattari, The 10 Best Books of 2016 - BBC Culture
"Ruth Franklin's Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life is a richly satisfying biography: capacious, incisive, and full of surprising insights into the legacy of this "Virginia Werewolf among the seance-fiction writers" (as a short-sighted mid-century writer once dubbed her)." -- Kate Bolick, Our Favourite Books of 2016 - The Irish Times
"... enjoyable biography..." -- Dan Jones - The Times
"Franklin has gained access to a trove of new material including a fascinating correspondence between Jackson and a housewife fan in the early 1960s. Our sense of there being "two Shirleys" is not encouraged by the author, who makes a convincing case for seeing the two personas instead as "profoundly interconnected"." -- The Times Literary Supplement
"Franklin's masterful biography, deeply researched and warmly sympathetic to its subject, paints a different picture, successfully marrying the various elements of Jackson's personality - writer and homemaker, gifted literary author and popular mummy-blogger memoirist." -- Literary Review
"... sympathetic and fair-minded biography..." -- The Guardian
"In her biography...Ruth Franklin plays down the broomstick tag and skilfully unpicks the threads of Jackson's life and works." -- The Arts Desk
"A brilliant new biography..." -- The Pool

ISBN: 9780871403131
ISBN-10: 0871403137
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 624
Published: 27th September 2016
Publisher: WW Norton & Co
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 24.5 x 17.0  x 3.8
Weight (kg): 1.05

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