Shirley Jackson’s novel ‘The Haunting of Hill House’, written in 1959 is considered one of the best ghost stories of the 20th Century and is seen as highly influential in the depiction of hauntings in literature in modern times.
The protagonist of the story is Eleanor Vance. The novel opens with her travelling to the titular house to be part of a scientific investigation she has been invited to by Dr Montague. Eleanor is a troubled character and her arrival at Hill House instigates a series of unsettling events, that defy rational explanation. We’re never quite sure who or what is really behind the occurrences that happen at the house. It’s a fascinating portrayal of a haunting and was prescient in its depiction of how such events could be investigated scientifically, and how people would go on to theorise about the nature of ghosts and hauntings.
My guest for this episode is Kellye McBride. Kellye is a writer and journalist and an expert on Shirley Jacksons work. We talk about The Haunting of Hill House and the events in the authors real life that may have inspired some elements of the story, and in other of her novels such as The Lottery and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. These highly imaginative stories all contain troubled characters trapped in an unfriendly setting, which prompts disturbing events which are hard to fully understand.
Although works of fiction, it is clear that Shirley Jackson drew inspiration from real life and this episode is ultimately a discussion of how the ideas and themes in her works can be used to explore the weirdness of the real world today.
Kellye's excellent articles on the Sublime Horror website can be found here: