The foun­da­tions of the clas­sic novel

SFX - - The Haunting Of Hill House -

Shirley Jack­son was open about The

Haunt­ing Of Hill House’s in­flu­ences. In lec­ture “ex­pe­ri­ence And Fic­tion”, she re­called a jour­ney to New york in Jan­uary 1958. As her train pulled into Har­lem’s 125th Street Sta­tion, she spied “a build­ing so dis­agree­able that I couldn’t stop look­ing at it”, so un­nerv­ing it led to night­mares. Jack­son claimed she later learned it was a build­ing where nine had died in a fire. the tale may be em­broi­dered – her bi­og­ra­pher could only find a fire site where three died, not vis­i­ble by rail. What­ever, Jack­son’s in­ter­est was piqued. She wrote to her par­ents re­quest­ing pic­tures of old Cal­i­for­nia houses. they sent clip­pings and a brochure for the in­fa­mous Winch­ester House. Jack­son also claimed she came across a photo in a mag­a­zine of a house with an “air of dis­ease and de­cay”, later dis­cov­er­ing that it was built by her own great-grand­fa­ther.

Jack­son’s re­search also fed into the book. Nam­ing her pro­tag­o­nist, she may well have had in mind eleanor Jour­dain, co-au­thor of The

Ad­ven­ture (1910), two ed­war­dian women’s ac­count of a times­lip at the Palace of Ver­sailles. And Haunted Peo­ple (1951), a book about poltergeists, prob­a­bly in­spired the de­tail of the young eleanor be­ing plagued by show­ers of stones…

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