Francis Booth

The Road Through the Wall by Shirley Jackson: An Analysis

This analysis of The Road Through the Wall focuses on its young heroine, Harriet Merriam and is excerpted from Girls in Bloom: Coming of Age in the Mid-20th Century Woman’s Novel by Francis Booth, reprinted by permission.

The Road Through the Wall was Shirley Jackson’s first novel, published in 1948. That was also the year when her short story, “The Lottery,” was published, making her instantly famous (as well as infamous). 

Jackson claimed that the novel was loosely based on her childhood growing up in a well-to-do neighborhood in California. Admitting that this book was somewhat of a revenge novel, she asserted that a first novel’s purpose, after all, was to get back one’s parents. Read More→


Categories: Francis Booth, Literary Analyses Comments: (0)

An Analysis of We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

This analysis of We Have Always Lived in the Castle (1962), Shirley Jackson’s last novel, has a special emphasis on Mary Katherine (Merricat), the younger of the Blackwood sisters central to the story. Excerpted from Girls in Bloom: Coming of Age in the Mid 20th Century Woman’s Novel by Francis Booth, reprinted by permission.

In Shirley Jackson’s The Sundial and The Haunting of Hill House, she used an old house as a brooding, malign presence in the novel, almost a character in its own right. She did the same, though in a completely different way, in We Have Always Lived in the Castle, her last completed novel. Read More→


Categories: Francis Booth, Literary Analyses Comments: (0)

Shirley Jackson: Mother of the Fictional and Real-Life Teen

This look at the depiction of adolescent and teen girls in the fiction and nonfiction of American author Shirley Jackson is excerpted from Girls in Bloom: Coming of Age in the Mid-20th Century Woman’s Novel by Francis Booth, reprinted by permission.

In the works of Shirley Jackson (1916 – 1965), there is an absence of sex of any kind, other than the veiled implication that Natalie Waite in Hangsaman has had a sexual experience that she does not remember, and which is not described in the novel.

One reason for this lack of sex among her teenage protagonists might be that Jackson had daughters of her own who might read her work. She did know a lot about the adolescent girl; she wrote several of them into her novels and stories, chief among them, the aforementioned Natalie Waite; Harriet Merriam (The Road Through the Wall), and Merricat Blackwood (We Have Always Lived in the Castle). Read More→


Categories: Francis Booth, Literary Musings Comments: (0)

Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke

The extraordinary Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke (1561 – 1621), was an almost exact contemporary of Shakespeare and has been one of the candidates in various conspiracy theories for the actual author of Shakespeare’s works, in particular his sonnets.

Even though this is nonsense, Mary Sidney, sister of the more famous Philip, was arguably Shakespeare’s – and almost everyone else’s – equal as a poet.

This introduction to Mary Sidney’s life and work is excerpted from Killing the Angel: Early Transgressive British Woman Writers by Francis Booth ©2021, reprinted by permission.

Read More→


Categories: Author biography, Francis Booth Comments: (0)

Allison MacKenzie: Coming of Age in Peyton Place by Grace Metalious

This look at the coming of age of Allison MacKenzie, one of the central characters of Peyton Place, the controversial 1956 novel by Grace Metalious, is excerpted from Girls in Bloom: Coming of Age in the Mid-20th Century Woman’s Novel by Francis Booth, reprinted by permission.

Peyton Place is set in a small New England town where everyone knows everyone’s business. The inhabitants of Peyton Place seemed to have a lot more sex than other novels of the mid-fifties – more than the censors and many critics were prepared to put up with: the novel was banned in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1957 and in Rhode Island in 1959. Read More→


Categories: Francis Booth, Literary Analyses Comments: (0)