Hugh Crain

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Hugh Crain is a backstory character from Shirley Jackson's 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill House.


In Shirley Jackon's novel, The Haunting of Hill House, Hugh Crain built Hill House eighty years ago as a country home for his small family, with the initial desire of seeing his children and grandchildren grow up in comfortable luxury, and where he hoped to spend his last days. Unfortunately, Hugh's first wife died in a horse carriage that was overturned in the mansion's driveway, leaving his two young daughters motherless. Eventually, Hugh remarried, but like Hugh's first wife, she died unexpectedly from a fall within the house—from where or why is never answered in the novel. Hugh remarried once more; his new wife died from consumption shortly before his own death in Europe.

Hugh's two daughters were left to grow up alone in Hill House with a governess while he traveled Europe with his third wife. Eventually, Hugh decided to close Hill House so that he could remain abroad in Europe; because of this, his two daughters were sent to live with their mother's cousin until they were of age.

Hill House always expected the return of Hugh Crain, but he never came back and eventually died in Europe. The house was eventually left to the eldest Crain sister, since the youngest was married off. Refusing to wed, the eldest sister took in a female companion from the neighboring town, Hillsdale−-the house was still not considered haunted at this time since a lot of the residents of Hillsdale were happy to work within the walls of Hill House. Unfortunately, the two sisters often fought over the ownership of the residence: the eldest even began to accuse the sister of breaking into the house and stealing things from the home.

After the eventual death of the eldest sister, there was a nasty court battle over the ownership of Hill House. The younger sister loved the house just as much as the eldest did and fought her sister's companion. The companion left several complaints, stating that the sister kept breaking into the home stealing things at night; but the youngest sister said that she had not, and would not, come into the house at night, to steal or for any other reason. Unfortunately, the companion was moved to commit suicide, hanging herself from the mansion's tower, and ownership of the house passed on over to the companion's cousins, who were the Sandersons. Therefore, this explains why Luke Sanderson would eventually inherit Hill House.

In Other Media[edit]

Hugh Crain was portrayed by Howard Lang in the 1963 film, and by Charles Gunning in the 1999 remake.

The character has been spoofed in Scary Movie 2.