"In this moment of cultural reckoning, I feel a cosmic connection to brilliant women whose brilliance was not recognized while they were alive. Dismissed by critics as a middlebrow genre writer, Shirley Jackson took on themes of domestic oppression, mental illness, and the occult as a means for women to harness power in a time when they had very little opportunity for power. The Haunting of Hill House is a frightening, funny, and at times, sad tale about a lonely young woman who joins an occult scholar and his team seeking evidence of psychic activity in a grand old house that, over the course of a summer, seems to turn on everyone inside it, a metaphor for the way housewifery smothers women’s creativity and ambition. Published in 1959, the book enjoyed commercial success but not critical acclaim — that was reserved for Jackson’s philandering husband, the literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman.
"Jackson has been on my mind recently, as people are already asking how soon we can forgive men in power who abused their power. They’re so talented! Surely our culture will suffer without their unparalleled genius. Instead, let’s focus on stocking their void with new talent — women, people of color, people with disabilities, members of the LBGTQ community, etc. People who have been overlooked the way Jackson was, 60 years ago, in favor of a man who sure, had talent, but no less and certainly no more than his extraordinary wife."
Jessica Knoll is the New York Times best-selling author of Luckiest Girl Alive and the forthcoming novel The Favorite Sister.