June 27, 2020

Shirley Jackson Day 2020

Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson
“The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green.”

Thus begins the most famous story written by Shirley Hardie Jackson (1916–1965), “The Lottery.” The short story was published in the June 26, 1948, issue of The New Yorker and is infamous for the angry letters and canceled subscriptions it provoked.

“The Lottery” was my introduction to Jackson, who is known mostly for her horror and mystery works. Her well-crafted and shocking story led me to read her two best-known novels, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and The Haunting of Hill House. I’ve also read her humorous memoirs Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons, the savages and demons in question being her four children. Jackson was a prolific writer, and I have many more of her works on my reading list.

Jackson spent much of her life in North Bennington, Vermont, a town that she reputedly had in mind when writing “The Lottery.” Nevertheless, North Bennington has celebrated Shirley Jackson Day in recent years every June 27. As a result of the current pandemic, Shirley Jackson Day is to be a virtual event in 2020. For those of us who do not live in Vermont, this is an unexpected blessing, as we can experience readings from her works on the Internet. Details of the event can be found here. The celebration begins at 7 pm EDT.

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