YOU DECIDE! Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson wrote award winning horror stories but her actual birthday remains a mystery. Help us to determine her Day Ray.

Shirley Jackson was fortunate to enjoy success as a writer during her life. Her books and short stories were immensely popular because they explored the dark corridors of human nature. Her best-known tale, The Lottery, received hundreds of letters of disbelief during the week after it was published in The New Yorker. Jackson’s literary work has inspired many modern story tellers, including Stephen King, Nigel Kneale, Joanne Harris and Richard Matheson.

#56 THU SAG       12/14/1916        
#09 SUN SAG       12/14/1919        

Two dates are circulated regarding Jackson’s birthdate. She was adamant in her decision to not share the details of her personal life. Her husband, Stanley Edgar Hyman, stated in his preface to a posthumous anthology of her work, “She consistently refused to be interviewed, to explain or promote her work in any fashion, or to take public stands and be the pundit of the Sunday supplements. She believed that her books would speak for her clearly enough over the years.” He also attempted to correct the rumors that there was a dark side to Jackson’s life. According to Hyman, there was nothing complicated about Jackson. She was simply portraying human behavior as she saw it in the past and now in the Cold War era.

Actually Jackson’s personal life was rather dark. Yes, she and her husband were gracious hosts who surrounded themselves with literary figures, but problems lurked beneath the surface. Even though she was a professional writer, Jackson’s husband insisted that she raise the children and handle the household alone. He controlled the finances and serially cheated on her with his students. In turn she drank, smoked cigarette and gained a lot of weight. She ended seeing a psychiatrist who prescribed barbiturates and amphetamines, which together are a lethal combination.

In 2007 Jackson died of heart failure at the age of 48. In the same year the Shirley Jackson Award was established for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic. So long live the spirit of creative expression especially where complexities are concerned.


Which day of the week do you think Jackson was born?

This is an interesting situation, because the rulers of Thursday and Sunday both thrive on power and influence. Both are controlling and therefore devastated when they are personally ignored or demeaned. Shirley Jackson received plenty of attention through her writing but she suffered greatly through her marriage.

The give-away is the way that she responded to her husband’s neglect and abuse. A Sunday female would have had more pride in what happened to her health and appear by her smoking, drinking and overeating. A Thursday female would have difficulty in realizing the harm she was causing herself, the reason being that she is more imprisoned by habits, especially those that feel like indulgences. Aside from impressions, Wikipedia states that Jackson was born in 1916. She used the 1919 birthdate to appear younger than her husband. It might be asked if as being a Thursday type posing as a Sunday type could have helped her achieve high awards, but crashed her life. Theoretically. It something to consider.

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