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Ruth Franklin

A Rather Haunted Life

This long-awaited biography establishes Shirley Jackson as a towering figure in American literature and revives the life and work of a neglected master.

Still known to millions only as the author of the “The Lottery,” Shirley Jackson (1916–1965) remains curiously absent from the American literary canon.

A genius of literary suspense, Jackson plumbed the cultural anxiety of postwar America better than anyone. Now, biographer Ruth Franklin reveals the tumultuous life and inner darkness of the author behind such classics as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Placing Jackson within an American Gothic tradition of Hawthorne and Poe, Franklin demonstrates how her unique contribution to this genre came from her focus on “domestic horror” drawn from an era hostile to women.

Based on a wealth of previously undiscovered correspondence and dozens of new interviews, Shirley Jackson, with its exploration of astonishing talent shaped by a damaged childhood and a troubled marriage to literary critic Stanley Hyman, becomes the definitive biography of a generational avatar and an American literary giant.

Ruth Franklin is a book critic and frequent contributor to The New Yorker, Harper’s, and many other publications. A recipient of a New York Public Library Cullman Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship, she lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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German World Book Sebastian Ritscher
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8. November 2016, review
Drawing on a trove of research?including previously unpublished letters and interviews?and her own astute analysis of Jackson’s fiction, Franklin gives her subject her much-deserved due and sets the standard for future literary biographers wresting with t

Library Journal, starred review

8. November 2016, review
With unprecedented access to private papers, Franklin traces the evolution of Jackson’s sensibility as a writer, building toward an ever-more nuanced understanding of the covert ways she deftly paired ‘the horrific with the mundane’ to both express her ow

Booklist, starred review

8. November 2016, review
An engaging, sympathetic portrait of the writer who found the witchery in huswifery. . . . [Franklin] deftly captures the many selves and multiple struggles of a true American original.

Kirkus, starred review

8. November 2016, review
A gripping and graceful portrait of the mind, life, and work of groundbreaking American author Shirley Jackson. . . . Treating her subject with a generous eye and gorgeous prose, Franklin describes . . . the elements that make Jackson a writer of lasting

Publishers Weekly

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