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The true stories of eleven notorious women, across five centuries, who were feared, victimized, and condemned for witchcraft in the British Isles.
Beginning with the late Middle Ages—from Ireland to Hampshire—hundreds of women were accused of spellcasting, wicked seduction, murder, and consorting with the devil. Most were fated for the gallows or the stake. What did it mean for these prisoners to stand accused? What were they really guilty of? And by whom were they persecuted?
Drawing on a wealth of primary sources including trial documents, church and census records, and the original sensationalist pamphlets describing the crimes, historian Willow Winsham finds the startling answers to these questions. In the process, she resurrects the lives, deaths, and mysteries of eleven women subjected to history’s most notable witch trials. From Irish “sorceress” Alice Kyteler who, in 1324 was the first accused witch on record, to Scottish psychic Helen Duncan who, in 1944, was the last woman imprisoned under Britain’s Witchcraft Act of 1735.
Dames, servant girls, aggrieved neighbors, suspect widows, cat ladies, prostitutes, mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters. Accused brings all these victims, and the eras in which they lived and died, back to life in “an incredibly well researched . . . stunning and admirable piece of work, highly recommended” (Terry Tyler, author of the Project Renova series).