Birthing the Hill House

by John J. Miller on October 29, 2009 · 2 comments

in Blog Posts

  • SumoMe

My article on Shirley Jackson and The Haunting of Hill House is in today’s Wall Street Journal. Here’s how she came to write it, according to her essay “Experience and Fiction”:

I have recently finished a novel about a haunted house. I was [working] on a novel about a haunted house because I happened by chance, to read a book about a group of people, nineteenth-century psychic researchers, who rented a haunted house and recorded their impressions of the things they saw and heard and felt in order to contribute a learned paper to the Society for Psychic Research. They thought that they were being terribly scientific and proving all kinds of things, and yet the story that kept coming through their dry reports was not at all the story of a haunted house, it was the story of several earnest, I believe misguided, certainly determined people, with their differing observations and backgrounds. I found it so exciting that I wanted more than anything else to set up my own haunted house, and put my own people in it, and see what I could make happen.

shirley-jackson

  • Michelle

    I saw the old adaptation of this novel recently–Claire Bloom?–anyway, it was darn scary without the blood and guts. Thank you for writing about Shirley Jackson–when I was in school, and then teaching, The Lottery was required reading. I hope it still is . . .

  • Lew

    The 1963 Robert Wise classic “The Haunting” is very faithful to the book
    and is terrifying even when seen on TV. It is being broadcast again on
    TCM this Oct 31. The performances by Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, and
    Richard Johnson ground the wonderful sound design and practical special
    effects that are genuinely spine chilling (even when you have felt them
    before). The shortened title apparently was Jackson’s suggestion.

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