The disturbing fictional short story, “The Lottery,” written by Shirley Jackson, was published for the first time in The New Yorker magazine on this day in 1948. It is known as “one of the most famous short stories in the history of American literature” but not necessarily in a favorable sense. The story tells of a small community of 300 or so residents who each year hold a lottery in which one town member gets stoned to death. Both Jackson and The New Yorker were surprised by the negative reaction of readers who cancelled their subscriptions and sent hate mail to the magazine. A month later, Jackson gave an explanation for the story: “Explaining just what I had hoped the story to say is very difficult. I suppose, I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village to shock the story's readers with a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives.” Ironically, some of the letter were from curious readers who wanted to know where these lotteries were held and if they would be allowed to watch!