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The Life And Literary Works Of Shirley Jackson

4276 words - 17 pages

Shirley Jackson was born on December 14, 1919 to Leslie and Geraldine Jackson. Her surroundings were comfortable and friendly. Two years after Shirley was born, her family with her newborn brother moved from San Francisco to Burlingame, California, about thirty miles away. "According to her mother, Shirley began to compose verse almost as soon as she could write it" (Friedman, 18). As a child, Shirley was interested in sports and literature. In 1930, a year before she attended Burlingame High School, Shirley began writing poetry and short stories. Jackson enrolled in the liberal arts program at the University of Rochester in 1934. But after periods of unhappiness and questioning the loyalty of her friends, she withdrew from the university. For the next year Shirley worked night and day on her writing. In doing so she established work habits, which she maintained for the rest of her life. After a year of becoming conscientious and disciplined writer, Jackson thought she better return to college for more schooling. In 1937, she entered Syracuse University. At first she was in the School of Journalism, but then she decided to transfer to the English department. For the next two years, while at Syracuse, Shirley published, fifteen pieces in campus magazines and became fiction editor of "The Syracusan", a campus humor magazine. When her position as fiction editor was eliminated, she and fellow classmate Stanley Edgar Hyman began to plan a magazine of literary quality, one that the English Club finally agreed to sponsor. (Friedman, 21) In 1939, the first edition of "The Spectre" was published. Although the magazine became popular, the English department didn't like the biting editorials and critical essays. But inspite of the department's constant watch over the magazine, Leonard Brown, a modern literature teacher, backed the students and the publication. Later, Jackson was always to refer to Brown as her mentor; and in 1959 she dedicated her novel "The Haunting of Hill House" to him.(Oppenheimer, 45) But in the summer of 1940, since Jackson and Hyman were graduating, it was announced the "The Spectre" had been discontinued. "Apparently hard feelings on the part of school authorities lasted for quite some time and may have been one of the reasons why neither Miss Jackson, even after becoming a successful author, nor Mr. Hyman, a known critic, was named as a recipient of the Arents Pioneer Medal for outstanding achievement, the highest honor granted by the university. Not until the year of her death in 1965-twenty-five years later- was the medal finally awarded to her-in absentia, since she was unable to attend the ceremony."(Friedman, 26)

In 1940, after their graduation Hyman and Jackson, who had a relationship, were married. While living in Vermont, Jackson continued to write. One of her earliest times in Vermont later became material for her first book about the family, "Life Among the Savages." Between 1945 and 1947, Jackson was occupied with...

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