Mamamia's Extraordinary Stories series deep dives into the kind of tales you will keep thinking about long after you've read them. From unexplained mysteries to moments that have changed history, Extraordinary Stories will take you down the rabbit hole and make you never want to leave.
"I have written myself into the house."
Shirley Jackson is one of the most prolific female horror authors of all time. Her stories have taught three generations of readers to be wary of spooky mansions and suspicious villagers, but behind her spine-tingling tales, Jackson herself was deeply haunted.
Shirley Jackson was born in 1916 in San Francisco, to conservative "country club" parents.
Her mother, Geraldine, grew increasingly frustrated with her and struggled to understand her unfeminine, writerly daughter. She would tell Jackson she was the result of a failed abortion and would often criticise her weight, her hair, and her inability to mould herself into the daughter her mother wished she had given birth to.
WATCH: The trailer for The Haunting of Hill House. Post continues below.
"I have been so sad all morning about what you have allowed yourself to look like," she told her one day.
After high school, Jackson attended Rochester University. She struggled during her time there, failing to make connections with the other students and eventually suffering a major depressive episode.
Later, she transferred to Syracuse University in Upstate New York to study journalism, though she spent most of her time working on poems and short stories.
During her time at the university, she wrote a 250-word story titled Janice which was published in a class magazine, The Threshold, put out by her professor, poet A.E. Johnson.