The history of the witchcraft trials has largely been sensationalized. This is not surprising, since even historians themselves have often sought to identify one overriding cause; the Little Ice Age, ergotism, the Church, feminism, remnants of a pagan cult etc. However, if we look beyond this and examine the trial records, we find the everyday stories of women and men in the Early Modern period (1500-1800), who were not so different from ourselves and who managed their lives according to their resources and positions in life.
Most assume that witches were widows, old, poor, midwives, healers, or ‘feisty’ women speaking out. They think witches were penalized simply for being women and that hundreds of thousands were burned at the stake in the Middle Ages. In fact, between 20-25% of those executed for witchcraft were men, many women accused were young or middle-aged, and few were the marginal figures of popular perception. Many trials held to strict legal procedures and many were released. The true history of witchcraft is still in the process of being discovered.
I’m Dr Wanda Wyporska and I am going to take you through the publishing process, as I endeavour to turn my doctorate into a book. As academic publishing is moreorless the last area in which authors deal directly with the publishers rather than through an agent, this could be an interesting journey.
Of course, I also have a day job, so my writing time is snatched in between work and family life. Long gone are the days when I could indiscriminately spend weeks at a time locked away in the archives or various libraries. Now I cherish days in the British Library when I have annual leave.
With a love of historical fiction that stemmed devouring Jean Plaidy as a teenager, I always knew I would be a historian. Trips to castles, palaces, and historical sites as a child instilled in me a fascination with past times. Various teachers along the way nurtured my interest in first Classics and then History. However, one woman alone inspired me, and she knows who she is.