Where Is Hill House supposed to be located?

From the cover of the first edition of Shirley Jackson's 'The Haunting of Hill House'

Shirley Jackson's celebrated 1959 novel  "The Haunting of Hill House" did not just spring from her imagination. The anthropomorphic house came out from real-life stigmatized homes. 

The seeds for the novel were supposedly planted when Jackson picked up a book about 19th-century psychic researchers who recorded their experiences in a haunted house. Her fascination with spooky homes only grew from there. 

On a train ride to New York City, she spotted one of the first homes that would visually become the inspiration for Hill House. "My husband and I were on the train which stops briefly at the 125th Street station, and just outside the station, dim and horrible in the dusk, I saw a building so disagreeable that I could not stop looking at it," she said in her book "Come Along with Me."

The thought of that home stressed her to the point that it "completely ruined" her NYC vacation. 

The Ettington Park Hotel in Warwickshire, UK was a filming location for the first movie adaptation of 'The Haunting of Hill House' that starred Julie Harris. Photo via Richard Croft / Ettington Park / CC BY-SA 2.0

More creepy but inspiring homes were to come. Jackson also supposedly looked up haunted mansions like the Winchester Mystery House in her native California. Taking after her great-granddad, the architect Samuel Jackson Bugbee, Shirley even sketched a layout of the fictional Hill House to guide the novelization. 

Jackson became acquainted with the works of a 20th-century researcher, too. Prior to the publication of "The Haunting of Hill House," she read the writings of the parapsychologist Nandor Fodor, whom she would meet for the novel's 1963 movie adaptation. Fodor served as a consultant for the Robert Wise-directed film. 

Fodor had famously investigated the case of Alma Fielding, whose residence in Thornton Heath, London was allegedly haunted by a particularly raucous poltergeist. Of "The Haunting of Hill House," Fodor wrote: “The creaks and groans of furniture, the imbalance of a spiral staircase and the abnormally cold spots are objectifications of the mental anguish and chill of Eleanor’s soul, the violent slamming of doors are explosive manifestations of inner conflicts.”

Jackson's frame of mind during the writing of the novel had its own eldritch terrors indeed. Writing to her estranged husband at the time, she said: "You once wrote me a letter telling me that I would never be lonely again. I think that was the first, the most dreadful, lie you ever told me."

Hill House is a lasting monument to the power of the human mind and its inseverable connection to the preternatural. Inspiring authors from Stephen King to Neil Gaiman, "The Haunting of Hill House" went on to be adapted the second time for theaters in 1999. The novel was eventually serialized for TV in 2018, further proof of the enduring appeal of the fictional, "not-sane" house.

The 1999 version of 'The Haunting of Hill House' starring Catherine Zeta-Jones was filmed in residences such as Harlaxton Manor in Lincolnshire, England. Via LaurynasNev


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