Shirley Jackson biography and "The Lottery" adaptive graphic novel released


BENNINGTON >> To some, Shirley Jackson was known as a mother and housewife, but to most of the public, she was seen as a writer of psychological thrillers.

Ruth Franklin elaborates on both personas in Jackson's new biography "Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life."

For the notable characters' centennial birth, the biography and a graphic novel of "The Lottery" illustrated by Jackson's grandson Miles Hyman, were released this past month. Franklin will visit the Northshire Bookstore on Oct. 29 and Park McCullough House in North Bennington for an event hosted by the Bennington Bookshop the next day.

It took Franklin six years to craft a single piece of work that entails all of who Jackson was. She filed through old letters found in a barn that no one had seen before, 50 boxes of Jackson's unpublished pieces and 50 more pertaining to her husband Stanley Hyman, as well as several interviews with each family member and surviving friends and neighbors of Jackson.

Franklin explained that people know Jackson most for her haunted stories, but the "A Rather" in the title notes that that's not all there is to the writer.

"My biography tried to show that there's a lot more to her range," Franklin said. "I definitely tried to bring out both sides of her. I think there is this kind of separation in the way she's seen between the housewife who wrote these cheerful memoirs and the darker writer. I tried to show, in many ways, that they're the same person and a lot of work has the same tone and style."

The writer published a number of her most important pieces while living in North Bennington. Her children were also raised there. Every year on the day of "The Lottery," Jackson's fans gather in North Bennington to commemorate words that live on 100 years after her birth.

Her son Barry Hyman remembers her as the woman in the kitchen doing dishes and giving every object a soul, he told the Banner in June. However, Jackson was a woman of the 50s trying to make a career out of writing.

Franklin said there's a piece in which Jackson describes her trip to the hospital to birth one of her four children. One of the nurses asked Jackson what her occupation was for paperwork. When Jackson responded as writer, the nurse said she'd write down housewife.

"It meant so much to me about what it meant to be a woman in the 40s and 50s when she was trying to carve out a career for herself as a writer when that was challenging," Franklin said. "She definitely didn't have any other female writers among her peers. She really didn't have any role models."

An interesting highlight from Franklin's research regarded Hyman. Letters that he wrote talked about Jackson and what she was doing. Franklin said it helped date some of Jackson's work because she rarely did so.

Franklin has written for "The New Yorker", "Harper's," "The New York Times" Book Review, "The New York Review of Books," and "Salmagundi," according to her site. Her first book "A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction" was a finalist for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature and she is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in biography as well as a Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library.

The biography was released last month and "The Lottery" graphic novel was released earlier this month. Jackson's grandson Miles Hyman is a well known artist in Paris. "The Lottery" was first published in "The New Yorker" in 1948 and has hit high school classroom reading lists across the United States since.

The authorized graphic adaptation is a 138 page novel packed with haunting, iconic images that reconstructs the original narrative in the most creative way.

Miles Hyman grew up in Vermont and attended Wesleyan University for printmaking and literature. Later he attended the Ecole Des Beaux-Arts and specializes in graphic novels and adaptations of classic literature. His work has appeared in publications such as "Le Monde," "Liberation," "GQ," "The New Yorker," "The New York Times," and in galleries around the world.

Jackson is most known for her short story "The Lottery" and "The Haunting of Hill House," which was twice adapted into a feature film. The Hyman family moved to North Bennington in 1945 when father Stanley Hyman was offered a teaching position at Bennington College. Jackson's titles "Life Among the Savages" (1953) and "Raising Demons" (1957) reveal aspects of the town. The first published after the move was "The Road Through The Wall" (1948.)

If you go

•7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29 at the Northshire Bookstore, 4869 Main St., Manchester Center.

•6:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30 at the Carriage Barn, Park McCullough House, 1 Park St., North Bennington.


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