When Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” was first published, in the June 26, 1948, issue of The New Yorker, it generated more mail than the magazine had ever received in response to a short story. Readers were alarmed, confused, and unnerved. “It is a wonderful story,” one man wrote, “and it kept me very cold on the hot morning when I read it.” “The Lottery” went on to become one of the most widely anthologized stories in American literature. (It’s not the only work of Jackson’s to have a significant afterlife: a television series based on her novel “The Haunting of Hill House” premièred earlier this month.)

This week, in honor of Halloween, we’re bringing you “The Lottery” and two other stories by Jackson. In “The Man in the Woods,” a wanderer stumbles upon a house full of secrets; in “Paranoia,” an ordinary commute goes subtly wrong. In “The Haunted Mind of Shirley Jackson,” Zoë Heller reviews a biography of “one of the twentieth century’s most tortured writers,” and, in “ ‘The Lottery’ Letters,” Ruth Franklin—Jackson’s biographer—surveys the response to her most famous short story. Finally, in “Memory and Delusion,” Jackson explores her own working method, which allows her to invent terrifying stories in the midst of ordinary life. We hope that these pieces lend a pleasant chill to your Halloween weekend.

—David Remnick


“The Lottery”

“In this village, where there were only about three hundred people, the whole lottery took only about two hours, so it could begin at ten o’clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner.” Read more.


“The Man in the Woods”

“He glanced apprehensively at the trees so close to him, irritated by the sound of his own voice in the silence, as though the trees were listening to him and, listening, had nodded solemnly to one another.” Read more.


“Paranoia”

“And then another thought caught Mr. Beresford breathless: how long, then, had the man in the light hat been following him?” Read more.

“Memory and Delusion”

“All you have to do—and watch this carefully, please—is keep writing. As long as you write it away regularly, nothing can really hurt you.” Read more.


“ ‘The Lottery’ Letters”

“A torrent of letters arrived at The New Yorker in the wake of “The Lottery”—the most mail the magazine had ever received in response to a work of fiction.” Read more.


“The Haunted Mind of Shirley Jackson”

“Jackson’s fiction is a sort of serial investigation of the malevolent, imprisoning power of her own fears.” Read more.