Simon & Schuster UK has landed Witchcraft: A History in Thirteen Trials by Professor Marion Gibson.
Non-fiction senior editor Frances Jessop acquired UK and Commonwealth rights for S&S UK from Joanna Swainson at Hardman & Swainson at auction. The book is slated for publication in 2023.
Described as a "lively and immersive global history of witchcraft", the book charts the evolution of attitudes towards witchcraft from the Middle Ages to the present day and shines a light on the stories of the victims.
They synopsis explains: "Witch hunts and their subsequent trials have occurred throughout history, across all continents, right up to the present day. But witchcraft and attitudes towards it and its practitioners have changed according to place, time and the interests and politics of the day. This book will use 13 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, such as Salem, it will take us in new and surprising directions. Significantly, the book will tell 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."
Jessop said: "Witches and 'witch trials' summon images of Macbeth and The Crucible, of persecuted women in the Middle Ages dunked in water. But how often do we hear the words 'witch hunt' in the media? As Marion demonstrates witchcraft and the persecution of 'witches' is not something we have left in the distant past. I was captivated by Marion’s storytelling and shocked by how recent and relevant to our world so much of it still is. Above all, it’s time to hear the victims’ stories. I am delighted to be publishing this brilliant book."
Gibson is Professor of Renaissance and Magical Literatures at the University of Exeter. She is the author of seven books on witches in history and literature. She has also edited five books for publishers such as Routledge and is general editor of the series Elements of Magic for Cambridge University Press. This is her first book for a trade audience.
Gibson said: "Stories about witches show us who we’re afraid of – or who our leaders think we should be afraid of – as a society. In the last 20 years the word 'witch' has come back into use as an insult and a claim. Across the world actual witch trials are spreading. We need to know the history of witch trials, listen to the 'witches' and understand what that long history of persecution means today. I’m so happy that Frances and Simon & Schuster loved the book and wanted to bring this important story to a wide readership."