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June 25 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • History

Witchcraft: A History in 13 Trials

Marion Gibson in conversation with Syd Moore
Photo of Marion Gibson. Witchcraft book cover

Venue:

Essex Record Office, Wharf Road
Chelmsford, Essex CM2 6YT United Kingdom
Tickets:
£10
£8 concessions (Students, Under 27s and Unwaged)
Book

Marion Gibson in conversation with Syd Moore, Witchcraft: A History in 13 Trials

The world of witch hunts and witch trials sounds antiquated, relics of an unenlightened and brutal age. However, ‘witch hunt’ is heard often in the present-day media, and the misogyny it is rooted in is all too familiar today. A woman was prosecuted under the 1735 Witchcraft Act as recently as 1944.

This book explores the history of witchcraft and witch hunts through the stories of the victims, stories which have too often been overshadowed by those of the powerful men, such as King James VI and I and “Witchfinder General” Matthew Hopkins, who hounded them.

Marion Gibson will be in conversation with Syd Moore, author of The Essex Witch Museum Mysteries series.

This event will include an audience Q&A. After the event there will be an opportunity to get your book signed by the author.

In partnership with Essex Record Office.

Tuesday 25 June, 7.00pm

Venue: Essex Record Office, Wharf Road, Chelmsford, CM2 6YT
Tickets: £10 / £8 concessions (Students, Under 27s and Unwaged)
Box Office: essexbookfestival.org.uk or Mercury Theatre 01206 573948

 


 

Witchcraft: A History in 13 Trials by Marion Gibson

Published 22 June 2023 (Simon & Schuster)

Witchcraft: A History in 13 Trials book cover

Order a copy of Witchcraft: A History in 13 Trials at bookshop.org

Salem, King James VI, Malleus Maleficarum. The world of witch hunts and witch trials sounds antiquated, relics of an unenlightened and brutal age. However, ‘witch hunt’ is heard often in the present-day media, and the misogyny it is rooted in is all too familiar today. A woman was prosecuted under the 1735 Witchcraft Act as recently as 1944.

This book uses thirteen significant trials to explore the history of witchcraft and witch hunts. As well as investigating some of the most famous trials from the middle ages to the 18th century, it takes us in new and surprising directions. It shows us how witchcraft was decriminalised in the 18th century, only to be reimagined by the 1780s Romantic radicals. We will learn how it evolved from being seen as a threat to Christianity to perceived as gendered persecution, and how trials against chieftains in Africa stoked anger against colonial rule.

Significantly, the book tells the stories of the victims – women, such as Helena Scheuberin and Joan Wright – whose stories have too often been overshadowed by those of the powerful men, such as King James VI and I and “Witchfinder General” Matthew Hopkins, who hounded them.

While this will be a history of witchcraft, the subject cannot be consigned to the history books. Hundreds of people, mostly women, are tried and killed as witches every year in Africa. ‘WITCH HUNT!’ is as common in our language today as ever it was, and witches are still on trial across the world.

 

 

About the Author

Marion Gibson is Professor of Renaissance and Magical Literatures at the University of Exeter, UK. She’s been thinking about witches in history since she read her first account of a witch trial in a book lent to her on a dark, rainy afternoon in November 1991. She was so excited by the story that she forgot to give the book back.

Thirty years on, she is the author of seven books on witches in history and literature: Reading Witchcraft (Routledge, 1999), Possession, Puritanism and Print (Pickering and Chatto, 2006), Witchcraft Myths in American Culture (Routledge, 2007), Imagining the Pagan Past (Routledge, 2013), Rediscovering Renaissance Witchcraft (Routledge, 2017), Witchcraft: The Basics (London: Routledge, 2017) and with Jo Esra Shakespeare’s Demonology (Bloomsbury, 2014). She’s currently writing The Witches of St Osyth for Cambridge University Press.

Photo of Marion Gibson

Photo of Marion Gibson © Neil Spence

 

Syd Moore

Syd Moore is currently Essex Libraries’ first Author in Residence. Twice shortlisted for a CWA Dagger, she is best known for her Essex Witch Museum Mysteries, a series that explores the witch trials in Essex between 1560 to 1680. The series was shortlisted for the Good Reader Holmes and Watson Award in 2018 and 2019. Syd founded the Essex Girls’ Liberation Front and successfully got the term ‘Essex Girl’ removed from the Oxford dictionary in 2020. Her debut screenplay, Witch West will go into production in 2024. She lives in Essex.
@SydMoore1

Photo of Syd Moore. Image of The Grand Illusion book cover

Syd Moore will also be speaking about her new book, The Grand Illusion, at South Woodham Ferrers Library on Thursday 20 June.

 

Essex Record Office ERO logo

 

Venue

Essex Record Office
Wharf Road
Chelmsford, Essex CM2 6YT United Kingdom
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