He moved to Newark, New York in 1907, and nine years later his older sister, Thelma, and younger brother, Richard, were killed while riding in a car that was struck by an express train.
On September 21, 1968, Jackson died of barbiturate poisoning at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City. His death was ruled a suicide. At the time of his death, Jackson was working on a sequel to "The Lost Weekend" entitled "Farther and Wider".
According to author and scholar Anthony Slide, Jackson had relapsed into alcoholism around the time of his death and had become estranged from his wife and children. Slide also wrote that Jackson had been closeted for the majority of his life and, in his later years, attempted to come to terms with his bisexuality. Slide maintains that Jackson "[...] identified as bisexual late in life" and began living with his male lover in 1965.
He graduated from Newark High School in 1921.
He attended Syracuse University, joining a fraternity there, but left during his freshman year after a "furtive sexual encounter with a fellow member of his fraternity, who then spread word of the incident in such a way that only Jackson came in for public disgrace"; a fictionalized version of that experience was later incorporated into "The Lost Weekend".
As a young man he worked as an editor for local newspapers and in various bookstores in Chicago and New York prior to falling ill with tuberculosis. Jackson spent the years 1927-1931 in sanatoriums and eventually recovered in Davos, Switzerland. His successful battle cost him a lung and served as a catalyst for his alcoholism.
He returned to New York at the height of the Great Depression and his difficulty in finding work spurred on his binge drinking. His battle to stop drinking started in late 1936 and was largely won by 1938, the year in which he married. During this time he was a free-lance writer and wrote radio scripts. Jackson's first published story, "Palm Sunday", appeared in the Partisan Review in 1939.
In the 1940s, Jackson wrote a trio of novels, beginning with "The Lost Weekend" published by Farrar & Rinehart in 1944. The 1944 publication of "The Lost Weekend" catapulted his career toward success. He moved briefly to Hollywood in the Summer of 1944 and shortly thereafter to New Hampshire with his growing family, including his two young girls. He lived on and off at his home in New Hampshire for ten years. At the height of his career, Charles R. Jackson lectured at various colleges. In the mid-1950s he began struggling with finances and moved with his family to Connecticut.
Jackson's second published novel of the 1940s, titled "The Fall of Valor", was released in 1946 and takes its name from a passage in Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick".
In September 1952, he attempted suicide and was committed to Bellevue Hospital. He was readmitted four months later after suffering a nervous breakdown. After his release, he went on an alcohol and paraldehyde binge during which he wrote six short stories and began writing "A Second-Hand Life". Jackson spoke about alcoholism to large groups, sharing his experience, strength and hope. A recording of his talk in Cleveland, OH in May 1959 is available (vide infra xa-speakers). He was the first speaker in Alcoholics Anonymous to address drug dependence (Barbiturates and Paraldehyde) openly as part of his story.
After relapsing into alcoholism Jackson became estranged from his family and rented an apartment in New York City that was shared with his lover in 1965.Jackson suffered from Chronic Lung Disease and committed suicide via an overdose of sleeping pills in his room at the Hotel Chelsea in New York City on September 21, 1968.
older sister: Thelma
younger brother: Richard