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book cover of Private Demons

Private Demons

The Life of Shirley Jackson
A non fiction book by

Publisher's Weekly
A porpoise born to a tenacious goldfish (in the words of one of her sons), Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) early rejected the torch of her family's gracious country-club conventionality. ''She would laugh at it, flaunt it, rebel against it. But she would carry her mother within her, an unexorcised demon,'' throughout her short life. This sympathetic biography confirms that the meeting of Jackson (a loner, whose route led her inward) and Stanley Edgar Hyman (''a bearded, loud-mouthed communist Jew'' who thrived on having an audience) set her firmly on her career path. Famous above all for ''The Lottery,'' she wrote plays, short stories, light novels, gothics and science fiction, while Hyman produced some of the most brilliant criticism of his time. For 25 years, surrounded by a coterie of creative people at colleges in New York and Vermont, this improbable couple taught, wrote, argued, emoted, smoked and drank to excess (Jackson alone ate a pound of butter a day)and died too young. They left a mixed legacy: four troubled, ''somewhat reclusive'' children, and some of the most lively writing of mid-century America. Photos not seen by PW.

Library Journal
Although scholarly and well researched, this biography is made highly entertaining by its numerous anecdotes, collected in extensive personal interviews with friends and family of Shirley Jackson. Combining critical analysis with a discussion of her life, this first biography of Jackson reveals how the author of a chiller like The Haunting of Hill House can be the same woman who, in her Life Among the Savages , was a forerunner of Erma Bombeck. It further reveals how Jackson's own volatile lifestyle and diverse personality contributed to her early death, a tragedy not so unlike the frightening conclusion of her widely known story ''The Lottery.'' Sandra Dayton, Homer Community Lib., Ill.


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Used availability for Judy Oppenheimer's Private Demons

Hardback Editions

July 1988 : USA Hardback

Title: Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson
Author(s): Judy Oppenheimer
ISBN: 0-399-13356-9 / 978-0-399-13356-5 (USA edition)
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   

Paperback Editions

May 1989 : USA Paperback

Title: Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson
Author(s): Judy Oppenheimer
ISBN: 0-449-90405-9 / 978-0-449-90405-3 (USA edition)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Availability: Amazon