‘The Haunting of Hill House’ is one of the most chilling horror stories we have seen in recent memory. The terror-inducing story was inspired by many events in the author’s life, from her demons to a real-life horror house in California.
After watching ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ on Netflix, you’re probably wondering where the story got its inspiration from! Is there a real Hill House somewhere that is presently haunting its residents? Or is it all just a work of fiction? ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ tells the chilling story of the Crain family as they spend their summer at America’s most haunted house. The story begins with a couple, Olivia and Hugh Crain, moving to Hill House with their five kids.
Did real events inspire the story of ‘The Haunting of Hill House’?
- It’s based on Shirley Jackson’s novel of the same name
- A real-life mystery manor inspired Hill House
- Shirley Jackson’s demons inspired Nell’s character
The family intends to renovate the ancient-looking house and resell it for a great price. They’re seen working on fixing the house, its battered walls, and its hallways from the beginning itself. What they’re completely unaware of, however, is that the house has no plans of being restructured and that the family is going to experience terrifying incidents that will change their lives forever.
Hill House is a mansion with more rooms than one can count and is more than what meets the eye. It’s adorned with statues and staircases and secret rooms, and is an entity in itself, attempting to swallow the family whole. The family’s plans of renovating the house fail miserably as every member finds themselves haunted in a very personal way. Keep reading to learn about the elements that influenced the Netflix adaptation!
It’s based on Shirley Jackson’s novel of the same name
The story is loosely based on Shirley Jackson’s 1959 horror fiction novel of the same name. Her novel received critical acclaim and has many famous fans including Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Carmen Maria Machado among others. The show reinstated most of the book’s character names but gave them new roles. For instance, the book follows a doctor conducting an experiment to discover the supernatural. The show, on the other hand, depicts a close-knit family that is haunted by the house instead.
The book was full of detailed descriptions of the ghosts, the knocking on the wall, while the show added themes that addressed mental health. The Netflix adaptation of ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ added more elements that would be relevant for a modern-day adaptation. The novel has already spawned two films in 1963 and 1999, directed by Robert Wise and Jan de Bont respectively.
A real-life mystery manor inspired Hill House
Here come the chills! “Insider” reported that there’s a real-life story that inspired the novel, which would have its own television adaptation decades later. The setting for Shirley Jackson’s novel was inspired by Sarah Winchester’s story, who rebuilt a farmhouse in San Jose.
Winchester is said to have been tortured by guilt and believed her fortune from being an heiress was haunted. After the death of her husband, she moved to California and for 38 years, rebuilt the house into what became known as the Winchester Mystery House.
Sarah was a popular socialite who cut herself off from her social circle and the world and placed her focus on the bizarre mansion. She is said to have built it for the ghosts’, “pleasure, or perhaps as a way to elude them”, according to “Smithsonian magazine”.
The Winchester Mystery House draws over 12 million guests each year since it first opened its doors in 1923. It once had staircases leading to rooms in the ceiling, several doors that lead to nowhere, and is said to be Jackson’s inspiration for Hill House.
Shirley Jackson’s demons inspired Nell’s character
The Netflix adaptation and Shirley Jackson’s novel have several themes in common, especially that of loneliness and depression. The characters in both pieces of fiction are suffering from mental trauma as a result of the Hill House hauntings.
According to the “New York Times”, there was another factor that influenced the core of Hill House. Shirley Jackson’s own demons and severe unhappiness could have possibly influenced the writer’s shaping of her novel’s setting. Nell or Eleanor is said to be particularly inspired by Jackson’s own experiences. While writing her novel, Jackson wrote a letter to her estranged husband that read, “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”.
Have you seen ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ yet? Let us know in the comments!