The Most Disturbing and Mind Crushing Quotes by Shirley Jackson

Over the years, Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) carved her literary niche by writing mainly within the horror and mystery genres. Her most infamous works are, “The Lottery,” and “The Haunting of Hill House.”

Shirley Jackson, Author of Over 200 Short Stories
Shirley Jackson, Author of Over 200 Short Stories

Shirley Jackson was born in San Francisco on December 14, 1916, and spent her childhood in nearby Burlingame, California, where she began writing poetry and short stories as a young teenager.   Her family moved East when she was seventeen, and she attended the University of Rochester.  After a year, in 1936, she withdrew and spent a year at home practicing writing, producing a minimum of a thousand words a day.  

This practice of writing 1,000 words a day is what helped her develop the discipline to go on to write over 200 published short stories, two memoirs, and six novels. Jackson’s body of work is so enormous that including all of her best quotes or observations would fill a book all of its own, we have limited this article to just 20 of her best quotes, picked at different points in her career, and from different works of fiction and non-fiction.

20 Of Her Best Quotes

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality. ― (The Haunting of Hill House)

My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all, I could have been born a werewolf because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing, dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in our family is dead. ― (We Have Always Lived in the Castle)

Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones. ― (The Lottery)

I shall eat the room in one mouthful, chewing ruthlessly on the boards and the small sweet bones. ― (Hangsaman)

Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it has stood for eighty years and might stand eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone. ― (The Haunting of Hill House)

If you are enjoying the Most Disturbing and Mind Crushing Quotes by Shirley Jackson, you would love our Writers Corner content at The Ritual.

 On the moon, we wore feathers in our hair, and rubies on our hands. On the moon, we had gold spoons. ― (We Have Always Lived in the Castle)

Outside were the eucalyptus trees, like lace against the sky. If it were only possible to lie against them, light and bodiless, sink into their softness, deeper and deeper, lost in them, buried, never come back again…. ― (The Road Through the Wall)

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Most people have never seen a ghost, and never want or expect to, but almost everyone will admit that sometimes they have a sneaking feeling that they just possibly could meet a ghost if they weren’t careful―if they were to turn a corner too suddenly, perhaps, or open their eyes too soon when they wake up at night or go into a dark room without hesitating first. ― (Come Along With Me)

It isn’t fair, it isn’t right,” Mrs. Hutchinson screamed, and then they were upon her. ― (The Lottery)

Shirley Jackson - Class of 1938 non-graduate. Student ID card
Shirley Jackson – Class of 1938 non-graduate. Student ID card

“I can’t help it when people are frightened,” says Merricat. “I always want to frighten them more.” ― (We Have Always Lived in the Castle)

When shall we live if not now? ― (The Sundial, 1958)

“In the country of the story, the writer is king.” (Come Along with Me, 1968)

“Materializations are often best produced in rooms where there are books. I cannot think of any time when materialization was in any way hampered by the presence of books.” (The Haunting of Hill House, 1959)

If you are enjoying the Most Disturbing and Mind Crushing Quotes by Shirley Jackson, you would love our Writers Corner content at The Ritual.

“A pretty sight, a lady with a book.” (We Have Always Lived in a Castle, 1962)

“I have always loved to use fear, to take it and comprehend it and make it work and consolidate a situation where I was afraid and take it whole and work from there.”

“I remember that I stood on the library steps holding my books and looking for a minute at the soft hinted green in the branches against the sky and wishing, as I always did, that I could walk home across the sky instead of through the village.” (We Have Always Lived in a Castle, 1962)

“I began writing stories about my children because, more than any other single being in the world, children possess and kind of magic that makes much of what they do so oddly logical and yet so incredible to grown-ups.”

“I delight in what I fear.”

“What I am trying to say is that with the small addition of the one element of fantasy, or unreality, or imagination, all the things that happen are fun to write about.”

“You will actually find that if you keep your story tight, with no swerving from the proper path, it will curl up quite naturally at the end, provided you stop when you have finished what you have to say.”

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About Shirley Jackson

Shirley Hardie Jackson was an American writer known primarily for her works of horror and mystery. Over the duration of her writing career, which spanned over two decades, she composed six novels, two memoirs, and more than 200 short stories. Did you know that she suffered from Agrophobia? Jackson suffered from such severe agoraphobia in the last years of her life, and that she was sometimes unable to leave her house.

Her first novel, The Road Through The Wall, was published in 1948.   That same year The New Yorker published Jackson’s iconic story, “The Lottery,” which generated the largest volume of mail ever received by the magazine—before or since—almost all of it hateful.   “The Lottery” has since been published in dozens of languages, and is still required reading in U.S. high schools.  It is possibly the most well-known short story of the 20th Century.

In 1959 came The Haunting of Hill House, her best-known novel, which has come to be generally regarded as the “quintessential haunted house tale.”   That novel has twice been adapted for feature films.   In 1961 Jackson received the Edgar Allan Poe Award for “Louisa, Please,” one of the few such awards she ever received during her lifetime.  

Published by Mind On Fire Books

I have always been attracted to the metaphysical; this blog and press is my exploration of the interjacent genres of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. ​

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