A full century after the birth of the author Shirley Jackson—who was born on Dec. 14, 1916—her name remains synonymous with the psychological drama of her stories and novels, most famously the Hunger Games precursor The Lottery. During Jackson’s short career, before her death at 48 of a heart attack, critics often noted with surprise that her work “came from a contented wife and good-humored mother of four,” as her TIME obituary noted. Today, those expressions of surprise can be noteworthy for their sexist undertones (“When busy Housewife Shirley Jackson finds time for a new novel…”), but they also reveal one of the truths of Jackson’s fiction: even within the most ordinary of circumstances, danger may lurk.
Here’s what TIME’s critics said about some of her most chilling work:
The Lottery and Other Stories (1949)
The Bird’s Nest (1954)
The Haunting of Hill House (1959)
We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962)
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