Shirley Jackson

Literary Birthday – 14 December – Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson was born 14 December 1916 and died 8 August 1965.


  1. In the country of the story the writer is king.
  2. I very much dislike writing about myself or my work, and when pressed for autobiographical material can only give a bare chronological outline which contains no pertinent facts.
  3. I have always loved to use fear, to take it and comprehend it, and make it work, and consolidate a situation where I was afraid and take it whole and work from there.
  4. So long as you write it away regularly nothing can really hurt you.
  5. I began writing stories about my children because, more than any other single being in the world, children possess and kind of magic that makes much of what they do so oddly logical and yet so incredible to grown-ups.
  6. The very nicest thing about being a writer is that you can afford to indulge yourself endlessly with oddness, and nobody can really do anything about it, as long as you keep writing and kind of using it up, as it were.
  7. Remember, the reader is a very tough customer indeed, dragging his feet, easily irritated. He will willingly agree to suspend disbelief for a time: he will go along with you if it is necessary for your story that you both assume temporarily that there really is a Land of Oz, but he will not suspend reason, he will not agree, for any story ever written, that he can see the Land of Oz from his window.
  8. I think that the popular notion of the writer as a person hiding away in a garret, unable to face reality, is probably perfectly true.
  9. A writer who is serious and economical can store away small fragments of ideas and events and conversations, and even facial expressions and mannerisms, and use them all someday.
  10. A bore is a bore, on the page or off it.
  11. I cannot find any patience for those people who believe that you start writing when you sit down at your desk and pick up your pen and finish writing when you put down your pen again; a writer is always writing, seeing everything through a thin mist of words, fitting swift little descriptions to everything he sees, always noticing.
  12. Do not try to puzzle your reader unnecessarily; a puzzled reader is an antagonistic reader.

Shirley Jackson was an American novelist and short story writer. She was known primarily for her works of horror and mystery, which included her story, The Lottery, and her novel, The Haunting of Hill House. She wrote six novels, two memoirs, and more than 200 short stories. The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle established her as a master of gothic horror and psychological suspense.

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 by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 13th December 2020