'These stories of witchcraft, true and vividly told, demonstrate the potent reality of belief in evil and how in any era or place fear can be weaponised and marginal people, mostly women, labelled as wicked and dangerous. Together they comprise not just a history of witchcraft but a cautionary tale’ Malcolm Gaskill, author of The Ruin of All Witches
'Thought-provoking and timely... Searing' Jessie Childs, The Times
In Witchcraft, Professor Marion Gibson uses thirteen significant trials to tell the global history of witchcraft and witch-hunts. As well as exploring the origins of witch-hunts through some of the most famous trials from the Middle Ages to the eighteenth century, it takes us in new and surprising directions.Three women were prosecuted under a version of the 1735 Witchcraft Act as recently as 2018.
Professor Gibson also tells the stories of the ‘witches’ – mostly women like Helena Scheuberin, Anny Sampson and Joan Wright, whose stories have too often been overshadowed by those of the powerful men, such as King James I and ‘Witchfinder General’ Matthew Hopkins, who hounded them.
Once a tool invented by demonologists to hurt and silence their enemies, witch trials have been twisted and transformed over the course of history and the lines between witch and witch-hunter blurred. For the fortunate, a witch-hunt is just a metaphor, but, as this book makes clear, witches are truly still on trial.
Marion Gibson is Professor of Renaissance and Magical Literatures at the University of Exeter, UK. She is the author of seven academic books on witches in history and literature: Reading Witchcraft; Possession, Puritanism, and Print; Witchcraft Myths in American Culture; Imagining the Pagan Past; Rediscovering Renaissance Witchcraft; Witchcraft: The Basics and, with Jo Esra, Shakespeare’s Demonology. Marion has also edited five books for publishers such as Routledge and Ashgate, published around twenty chapters and articles, and she is General Editor of the series Elements in Magic for Cambridge University Press. Witchcraft: A History in Thirteen Trials is her most recent work.
'These stories of witchcraft, true and vividly told, demonstrate the potent reality of belief in evil and how in any era or place fear can be weaponised and marginal people, mostly women, labelled as wicked and dangerous. Together they comprise not just a history of witchcraft but a cautionary tale of the uncomfortably human habits of paranoia and persecution'
– Malcolm Gaskill, author of The Ruin of All Witches
'It is wonderful to come across a book that breathes such fresh life and energy into a well-worked subject, covering a huge range of time and space with a unified, passionate and convincing message. Any expert is going to learn something new from it, any newcomer to be enthralled and motivated'
– Ronald Hutton, author of The Witch
'Thought-provoking and timely... Searing'
– Jessie Childs, The Times
'A vital and vivid study on the history of witch trials. Fantastic’
– Anya Bergman, author of The Witches of Vardo
’Thirteen witch trials are brought vividly to life in Gibson’s wide-ranging book’
– Daily Mail
'Inventive and compelling... A work of restitution and historical reparation, an attempt to give voice to those who have been silenced over the centuries'
– Laura Kounine, Times Literary Supplement
'The trials of the accused people in Witchcraft return to us, in detail, lives about which we might otherwise know nothing'
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