‘Shirley’: Where to Read Shirley Jackson’s Famous Story ‘The Lottery’ After You Watch the Hulu Movie

Elisabeth Moss is earning rave reviews for her portrayal of writer Shirley Jackson in the new movie Shirley. The film — which is available to stream on Hulu beginning June 5 — is a fictionalized take on the life of the acclaimed author of tales of psychological horror and mystery such as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. 

Once you’ve watched Shirley, you might be interested in diving deeper into (or revisiting) Jackson’s work. One of the best places to start is her most famous short story, “The Lottery.” 

‘The Lottery’ caused controversy when it was published 

Shirley Jackson and Stanley Hyman - Elisabeth Moss and Michael Stuhlbarg
Michael Stuhlbarg and Elisabeth Moss in Shirley | Neon

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Jackson was already an established writer in 1948, when The New Yorker agreed to publish “The Lottery,” which she wrote in less than 2 hours. These days, the story about the residents of a small town who come together to observe an annual ritual where a randomly selected person is stoned to death is frequently assigned in high school literature classes. But it caused controversy when it was published. 

The magazine’s editors were nearly unanimous in their admiration for “The Lottery,” according to Mental Floss. Readers were less enthusiastic. Letters poured in expressing confusion and disgust over the story. One person called in “gruesome.” Another declared it “perverted.” Hundreds of people canceled their subscriptions. Some people even thought the story was based on actual events. “I’m hoping you’ll find time to give me further details about the bizarre custom the story describes, where it occurs, who practices it, and why,” one person wrote in a letter to Jackson. 

You can read ‘The Lottery’ online 

Over time, the outcry over Jackson’s short story has faded and its become accepted as a modern classic. It’s widely anthologized and often read in schools. 

The New Yorker has made “The Lottery” available to read online for free.  The magazine also has several other of Jackson’s stories in its archives, including “Paranoia” and “The Man in the Woods.”

What to watch after you stream ‘Shirley’

actors on the set of The Haunting
Julie Harris and Richard Johnson on the set of The Haunting | Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

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A number of Jackson’s short stories and novels have been adapted for movies or television. After you stream Shirley, you can add these to your to-watch list. 

The Haunting, the well-received 1963 film based on The Haunting of Hill House, is available to rent on Amazon. The less-successful 1999 remake is also available to rent or can be streamed with a Starz subscription. Netflix subscribers can watch The Haunting of Hill House, a TV series loosely based on the book. 

We Have Always Lives in the Castle, a 2019 movie with Taissa Famiga and Sebastian Stan, is streaming for free on Amazon Prime. 

In 2018, Deadline reported that a feature film version of The Lottery was in the works.  

Shirley is currently streaming on Hulu

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