The Penguin Book of Witches
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Chilling real-life accounts of witches, from medieval Europe through colonial America, compiled by the New York Times bestselling author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane and Conversion
From a manual for witch hunters written by King James himself in 1597, to court documents from the Salem witch trials of 1692, to newspaper coverage of a woman stoned to death on the streets of Philadelphia while the Continental Congress met, The Penguin Book of Witches is a treasury of historical accounts of accused witches that sheds light on the reality behind the legends. Bringing to life stories like that of Eunice Cole, tried for attacking a teenage girl with a rock and buried with a stake through her heart; Jane Jacobs, a Bostonian so often accused of witchcraft that she took her tormentors to court on charges of slander; and Increase Mather, an exorcism-performing minister famed for his knowledge of witches, this volume provides a unique tour through the darkest history of English and North American witchcraft.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
first girl who was “afflicted.” Abigail Williams, rather than being the nubile seventeen-year-old minx of Arthur Miller’s fevered imagination, was a kinswoman of Parris’s (she is often described as his niece, though such a term had more general use in the seventeenth century), eleven years old, and working as a servant in the Parris household. Elizabeth Hubbard, however, was seventeen and an indentured servant of Dr. William Griggs, the man whom most historians agree was the first to diagnose the
at what time their master enquiring at them what they would be at. Every one of them propones unto him what wicked turn they would have done, either for obtaining of riches or for revenging them upon any whom they have malice at. Who, granting their demand as no doubt willingly he will, since it is to do evil, he teacheth them the means whereby they may do the same. As for little trifling turns that women have ado with, he causeth them to joint dead corpses and to make powders thereof, mixing
Salem trials are remarkably similar, despite their being separated by an ocean and a generation: in both cases, a small group of middle-aged women is accused of bewitching a cadre of mostly adolescent girls. Though the accused witches had little in common, even coming from different class backgrounds, they were all tried, found guilty, and hanged. The admission of spectral evidence, or evidence gleaned in a dream or vision, as legal evidence at Bury St. Edmunds determined the conduct of witch
with her)3 complaining of her breath being stopped. The next day she was in a strange frame (as was observed by diverse), sometimes weeping, sometimes laughing, and many foolish and apish gestures. In the evening, going into the cellar, she shrieked suddenly, and being enquired of the cause, she answered, that she saw two persons in the cellar, whereupon some went down with her to search but found none, she also looking with them. At last she turned her head and looking one way steadfastly, used
invented, or worse.1 In effect, Scot argued that contemporary witch mongers were suffering from a failure of faith, ascribing powers to individuals that should be reserved only for God. To prove his case, Scot argued from biblical interpretation and evidence, claiming that modern translations of the Scriptures collapsed several different categories of malefactors—soothsayers, cheats, poisoners, and so forth—into the single category of “witch.”2 More than even biblical authority, however, Scot