The Lottery and Other Stories

The Lottery and Other Stories Study Guide

The Lottery and Other Stories is a collection of twenty-five of Shirley Jackson's short stories, plus an epilogue. This collection was first named The Lottery--Adventures of the Daemon Lover by Jackson. The collection was first published in 1949 and is divided into four sections. Each section break is marked by a quotation from Joseph Glanvil's Sadducismus Triumphatus (1681), a work that concerns witchcraft.

The most famous story in this collection is "The Lottery," which first appeared in the June 26, 1948, issue of The New Yorker. Many readers wrote to Jackson and to the magazine to express outrage regarding the harrowing story of a ritual of human sacrifice. Jackson herself was surprised by the response elicited by "The Lottery." Nonetheless, the story launched her distinguished career as a writer.

James Harris is a recurring figure throughout many of the stories. He might appear as himself, as a figment of a character's imagination, or as someone who is merely mentioned. The epilogue is an excerpt from James Harris, the Daemon Lover, an old English ballad, which explains Jackson's original title for the collection.

Some of the stories range describe mundane scenes in suburban or country life and dissatisfaction in city life, while others display human evil and unexpected brutality.