89 books like Witch Hunting and Witch Trials

By C L'Estrange Ewen,

Here are 89 books that Witch Hunting and Witch Trials fans have personally recommended if you like Witch Hunting and Witch Trials. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England

Malcolm Gaskill Author Of Witchfinders: A Seventeenth-Century English Tragedy

From my list on witch hunting in Britain and Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an Emeritus Professor of Early Modern History at the University of East Anglia and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. I taught history for many years at several UK universities, and I was the Director of Studies in History at Churchill College, Cambridge. I am the author of six books, including Hellish Nell: Last of Britain’s Witches and Witchcraft: A Very Short Introduction. His latest book, The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World, will be published in November by Penguin. I live in Cambridge, England, and I am married with three children.

Malcolm's book list on witch hunting in Britain and Europe

Malcolm Gaskill Why did Malcolm love this book?

Originally published in 1970, this was another foundational text for me and other witchcraft scholars of my generation.

It grew out of Macfarlane’s doctoral thesis focusing on Essex, which had been supervised by Keith Thomas, whose own great book, Religion and the Decline of Magic (much of which dealt with witches), came out the following year. Even then, the historian Macfarlane was on his way to becoming an anthropologist – a transition visible on every page of this fascinating book.

But its overriding character is that of a work of sociology. Social science models helped to impose interpretative order on the kind of archival information dug up by C. L’Estange Ewen, and connected a rise in witchcraft accusations to a number of strains in late-sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century English life, especially economic strains.

Although their interpretations differ in substance and emphasis, Macfarlane and Thomas are still associated with a paradigm…

By Alan Macfarlane,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a classic regional and comparative study of early modern witchcraft. The history of witchcraft continues to attract attention with its emotive and contentious debates. The methodology and conclusions of this book have impacted not only on witchcraft studies but the entire approach to social and cultural history with its quantitative and anthropological approach. The book provides an important case study on Essex as well as drawing comparisons with other regions of early modern England.
The second edition of this classic work adds a new historiographical introduction, placing the book in context today.


Book cover of Witch-Hunting in Scotland: Law, Politics and Religion

Malcolm Gaskill Author Of Witchfinders: A Seventeenth-Century English Tragedy

From my list on witch hunting in Britain and Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an Emeritus Professor of Early Modern History at the University of East Anglia and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. I taught history for many years at several UK universities, and I was the Director of Studies in History at Churchill College, Cambridge. I am the author of six books, including Hellish Nell: Last of Britain’s Witches and Witchcraft: A Very Short Introduction. His latest book, The Ruin of All Witches: Life and Death in the New World, will be published in November by Penguin. I live in Cambridge, England, and I am married with three children.

Malcolm's book list on witch hunting in Britain and Europe

Malcolm Gaskill Why did Malcolm love this book?

The distinctive selling-point of this work is summed up by its sub-title: a focus on law, politics and religion as causal factors, not just for humdrum witchcraft accusations but for major, sustained witch-hunts. Brian Levack has made a huge contribution to our understanding of witch-hunting, and here brings his specialist expertise to bear on Scotland, which experienced the most intense, and devastating panics anywhere in the British Isles (and worse even than most places in continental Europe).

Historians have long learned not to see witch-hunts as hysterical spasms of pre-Enlightenment ‘superstition’. Demonology was a serious subject in the sixteenth and seventeeen centuries, and was logically coherent within the mentalities of the time. Witchcraft, then, wasn’t some insane sideshow to the dominant legal, political and religious issues of the day, but central to those issues.

Embedding witchcraft in these mainstream contexts is essential to understanding what it once meant, not just…

By Brian P. Levack,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Witch-Hunting in Scotland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the 2008 Katharine Briggs Award

Witch-Hunting in Scotland presents a fresh perspective on the trial and execution of the hundreds of women and men prosecuted for the crime of witchcraft, an offence that involved the alleged practice of maleficent magic and the worship of the devil, for inflicting harm on their neighbours and making pacts with the devil.

Brian P. Levack draws on law, politics and religion to explain the intensity of Scottish witch-hunting. Topics discussed include:

the distinctive features of the Scottish criminal justice system the use of torture to extract confessions the intersection of witch-hunting with…


Book cover of Witches and Neighbours: The Social and Cultural Context of European Witchcraft

Julian Goodare Author Of The European Witch-Hunt

From my list on the history of European witchcraft and witch-hunting.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian who wants to know: Why did people burn other people at the stake for what we think was an impossible crime? It seems so unjust; indeed it was unjust. I mention Amnesty International in my book; as well as being a professional historian, I’ve been writing letters for Amnesty for many years, trying to rectify injustice. Yet witch-hunting made sense to the perpetrators; they weren’t simply ‘wicked’ or ‘crazed’ or ‘ignorant’. We need to understand them on many levels, from the most erudite demonology, all the way down to psychological processes by which we identify enemies. The five books I’ve chosen move gradually downwards, in order, from the highest to the deepest level.

Julian's book list on the history of European witchcraft and witch-hunting

Julian Goodare Why did Julian love this book?

As well as the fears of godly states, early modern villagers had their own fears.

This book shows ‘witches’ being created in a process of everyday village rivalries between neighbours. Two villagers quarrel; either or both of them may utter insults, threats, or curses. You witch! You will regret this! May the Devil drag your soul through hell! And so on.

Insults (even ‘You witch!’) were relatively harmless, but threats and curses could get you into trouble. If your opponent then experienced some misfortune, neighbours might explain this as your curse taking effect.

This was particularly likely if you were female: people feared men’s physical violence, but they feared women’s curses. This book brings early modern villages to life.

By Robin Briggs,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Witches and Neighbours as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Witches and Neighbours is a highly original and unconventional analysis of a fascinating historical phenomenon. Unlike other studies of the subject which focus on the mechanisms of persecution, this book presents a rich picture of witchcraft as an all-pervasive aspect of life in early modern Europe. Robin Briggs combines recent research with his own investigations to produce a brilliant and compelling account of the central role of witchcraft in the past. Although the history of witchcraft can only be studied through records of persecutions, these reveal that trials were unusual in everyday life and that witchcraft can be viewed as…


Book cover of Witch Craze: Terror and Fantasy in Baroque Germany

Lu Ann Homza Author Of Village Infernos and Witches' Advocates: Witch-Hunting in Navarre, 1608-1614

From my list on the trauma of European witch-hunting.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of early modern Europe, with a research focus on Spain and Italy. I first encountered archival documents from the Spanish Inquisition during research for my first book: I was already a fan of religious history but quickly became a fan of studying the law. I am fascinated by the ways in which people between the 1500s and 1700s used the legal systems at their disposal to recapture honor and pursue enemies. I am always on the lookout for ways in which religious prescriptions from centralized authorities did not match what was happening on the ground with ordinary, usually illiterate people.

Lu's book list on the trauma of European witch-hunting

Lu Ann Homza Why did Lu love this book?

No one does a better job of explaining the links between witchcraft accusations and fears over fertility than Roper.

Her ability to connect witches’ stereotypical activities—murder, cannibalism, sex with the Devil, and so on—with the demographic and subsistence crises of early modern Germany is remarkable.

She is an incredibly sensitive reader of primary sources.

By Lyndal Roper,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Witch Craze as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A powerful account of witches, crones, and the societies that make them

From the gruesome ogress in Hansel and Gretel to the hags at the sabbath in Faust, the witch has been a powerful figure of the Western imagination. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries thousands of women confessed to being witches-of making pacts with the Devil, causing babies to sicken, and killing animals and crops-and were put to death. This book is a gripping account of the pursuit, interrogation, torture, and burning of witches during this period and beyond.

Drawing on hundreds of original trial transcripts and other rare…


Book cover of Witch Hunting in Southwestern Germany, 1562-1684: The Social and Intellectual Foundations

Lu Ann Homza Author Of Village Infernos and Witches' Advocates: Witch-Hunting in Navarre, 1608-1614

From my list on the trauma of European witch-hunting.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of early modern Europe, with a research focus on Spain and Italy. I first encountered archival documents from the Spanish Inquisition during research for my first book: I was already a fan of religious history but quickly became a fan of studying the law. I am fascinated by the ways in which people between the 1500s and 1700s used the legal systems at their disposal to recapture honor and pursue enemies. I am always on the lookout for ways in which religious prescriptions from centralized authorities did not match what was happening on the ground with ordinary, usually illiterate people.

Lu's book list on the trauma of European witch-hunting

Lu Ann Homza Why did Lu love this book?

A classic study that was in the vanguard of American investigations of European witch-hunting when it first appeared in 1972.

It was and is remarkable in the ways it takes seriously both religious and social history.

Highly readable, extremely learned, and based on years of archival investigation, Midelfort’s work is a must-read.

By H. C. Erik Midelfort,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Witch Hunting in Southwestern Germany, 1562-1684 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is an analysis of witchcraft and witch hunting as they appeared in southwestern Germany in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Starting from a short analysis of some basic problems in the interpretation of European witchcraft, it proceeds to a study of the shifting denominational views regarding witches and the growth of Catholic orthodoxy. That theoretical vantage yields insight into the patterns in time, space, and confession that characterized all witch hunts in the German Southwest. There follows a narrative analysis of the largest witch hunts and the general crisis of confidence they produced. Analysis is complemented by a…


Book cover of Death in Salem: The Private Lives Behind the 1692 Witch Hunt

Diana Rubino Author Of For The Love Of Hawthorne

From my list on the 1692 “witch” hunts in Salem Village.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write historical and biographical novels, and have had a fascination with the Salem witch trials since childhood. With my first visit to Salem, I felt a strong connection to my surroundings and its history. When I walked through the House of the Seven Gables for the first time, I felt I’d been there before. Three past-life regressions brought me back to 17th century Salem. In my biographical novel For The Love Of Hawthorne, I delved deeply into the soul of my favorite author, his devoted wife, and the shame his family suffered at the hand of his ancestor Judge Hathorne. The story came from my heart, as I lived their story along with them. 

Diana's book list on the 1692 “witch” hunts in Salem Village

Diana Rubino Why did Diana love this book?

Diane Foulds, a descendant of one of the victims condemned to death during the Salem Witch Trials, thoroughly researched many of the people involved in the events that led to the execution of 19 innocent victims. I am not a descendant, but these events have fascinated me since childhood, because they were so outlandish and led to such unnecessary tragedy. In this book you will learn about not only the victims, but the ‘afflicted’ young girls whose wild, unfounded accusations and theatrics during the trials convinced the judges that many people were witches. It is easy to connect with each individual, as the book centers on them, to understand why the entire episode was character-driven. It is even easier to sympathize with the victims and appreciate how they suffered. 

By Diane E. Foulds,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Death in Salem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Salem witchcraft will always have a magnetic pull on the American psyche. During the 1692 witch trials, more than 150 people were arrested. An estimated 25 million Americans-including author Diane Foulds-are descended from the twenty individuals executed. What happened to our ancestors? Death in Salem is the first book to take a clear-eyed look at this complex time, by examining the lives of the witch trial participants from a personal perspective. Massachusetts settlers led difficult lives; every player in the Salem drama endured hardships barely imaginable today. Mercy Short, one of the "bewitched" girls, watched as Indians butchered her parents;…


Book cover of The Last Witches of England: A Tragedy of Sorcery and Superstition

Marion Gibson Author Of Witchcraft: The Basics

From my list on witchcraft in history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been researching and writing histories of witchcraft for over twenty years because I wanted to know why people would confess to a crime that they couldn’t have committed. I especially wanted to know about women’s stories of witchcraft, and I found that fiction really helped me to imagine their worlds. I’m a Professor at Exeter University and I’m working on two new books about witchcraft trials: The Witches of St Osyth and Witchcraft: A History in Thirteen Trials. I’m trying to feel every word and give the “witches” the empathy they deserve.

Marion's book list on witchcraft in history

Marion Gibson Why did Marion love this book?

The immersive and tragic history of a witch trial in Bideford, Devon, England in 1682 puts the “witches” back at the centre of their story and tries to imagine their world with sympathy and insight. This is a very well-researched book, drawing on documents from the town and printed news pamphlets about the trial, as well as on the author’s wider knowledge of witchcraft and demonology (the study of devils and witches). It evokes the sinister atmosphere in the town very effectively. The story is well told, pacy, and easy to follow, and I learned a lot about the women and their world – telling details that I thought might have been lost to history, but are rediscovered and thrillingly told here.

By John Callow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Witches of England as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Fascinating and vivid." New Statesman
"Thoroughly researched." The Spectator
"Intriguing." BBC History Magazine
"Vividly told." BBC History Revealed
"A timely warning against persecution." Morning Star
"Astute and thoughtful." History Today
"An important work." All About History
"Well-researched." The Tablet

On the morning of Thursday 29 June 1682, a magpie came rasping, rapping and tapping at the window of a prosperous Devon merchant. Frightened by its appearance, his servants and members of his family had, within a matter of hours, convinced themselves that the bird was an emissary of the devil sent by witches to destroy the fabric of their lives.…


Book cover of The Salem Witch Hunt: A Brief History with Documents

Lu Ann Homza Author Of Village Infernos and Witches' Advocates: Witch-Hunting in Navarre, 1608-1614

From my list on the trauma of European witch-hunting.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian of early modern Europe, with a research focus on Spain and Italy. I first encountered archival documents from the Spanish Inquisition during research for my first book: I was already a fan of religious history but quickly became a fan of studying the law. I am fascinated by the ways in which people between the 1500s and 1700s used the legal systems at their disposal to recapture honor and pursue enemies. I am always on the lookout for ways in which religious prescriptions from centralized authorities did not match what was happening on the ground with ordinary, usually illiterate people.

Lu's book list on the trauma of European witch-hunting

Lu Ann Homza Why did Lu love this book?

Godbeer’s introductory essay to this collection of primary sources is a model of clarity and up-to-date findings about America’s most famous witch hunt.

His scholarship has all the right pieces: attention to the often young female accusers, an exposition of how and why Puritanism highlighted the diabolical as a constant fear, and an assessment of potential failures of masculinity among the accused men.

By Richard Godbeer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Salem Witch Hunt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Get a clearer understanding of why the Salem Witch Trials actually took place as Salem Witch Hunt explores how gender norms, social tensions, and the Puritan's worldview influenced this infamous period in colonial history.


Book cover of A Delusion of Satan: The Full Story of the Salem Witch Trials

Neill McKee Author Of Guns and Gods in My Genes: A 15,000-mile North American search through four centuries of history, to the Mayflower

From my list on to understand the true founding of America.

Why am I passionate about this?

During my childhood in Canada, I was fascinated by the “Wild West” and the fact that my maternal grandmother, who lived with us, was born in Wisconsin in 1876, when Jesse James was still robbing trains. I became an international multimedia producer, and I always took an entertainment-based approach to my work, grounded in research. After I retired, I began to search for my roots, uncovering interesting stories of my ancestors. Besides accessing websites and books, I traveled to where they lived to gain insights, meet historians, and distant cousins. I also engaged expert genealogists to prove my lineage back to the Mayflower and Puritan settlers of New England. That allowed me to join the Mayflower Society.

Neill's book list on to understand the true founding of America

Neill McKee Why did Neill love this book?

I read this book because Salem was founded by another ancestor of mine, Roger Conant. He first settled in Plymouth but could not abide the Pilgrims’ fanatical creed. He was a Puritan but not a religious separatist. Most Puritans had dreams of reforming the Church of England, starting in America. Fortunately, Conant died before the Salem Witch Trials began, for he would have been shocked at these developments. (Unfortunately for him, the town stuck his statue in front of the Witch Museum.) Frances Hill’s book is a blow-by-blow account of how the hysteria of some adolescent girls captured the minds of Massachusetts’ residents, including educated people, causing the death of 20 innocent people. It is also a study of Puritan culture, as it went more and more “off the rails.”

By Frances Hill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Delusion of Satan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This acclaimed history illuminates the horrifying episode of Salem with visceral clarity, from those who fanned the crisis to satisfy personal vendettas to the four-year-old "witch" chained to a dank prison wall in darkness till she went mad. Antonia Fraser called it "a grisly read and an engrossing one."


Book cover of A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience

Bryan Le Beau Author Of The Story of the Salem Witch Trials

From my list on the story behind the Salem Witch Trials.

Why am I passionate about this?

A native of Massachusetts and married to a descendent of two of the accused, the Salem witch trials have long fascinated me. Armed with a Ph.D. in American studies from New York University – focused on American history, literature, and religion – a significant portion of my academic career has been devoted to research, publications, classes, and public lectures on the Salem witch trials, reflected in the third edition of my book, The Story of the Salem Witch Trials. The book is only one of several books and many articles I have published on various aspects of American cultural history, many of which relate in some way to what happened in Salem in 1692.  

Bryan's book list on the story behind the Salem Witch Trials

Bryan Le Beau Why did Bryan love this book?

In his latest book, Baker explores the various explanations for the Salem witch trials. He concludes that there was no single factor, but rather the result of a convergence of conditions, political, social, cultural, and economic. 

He focuses on key players in the outbreak, including the accused, the accusers, the judges, and government officials who failed to deal with the hysteria in a timely manner, thereby sparing those who lost their lives in the process.

In his final chapter, he discusses the response of Salem town, “witch city,” to the events of 1692 and its attempt to mine the tourist opportunities while recognizing the personal tolls taken by the accused. 

By Emerson W. Baker,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Storm of Witchcraft as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Beginning in January 1692, Salem Village in colonial Massachusetts witnessed the largest and most lethal outbreak of witchcraft in early America. Villagers-mainly young women-suffered from unseen torments that caused them to writhe, shriek, and contort their bodies, complaining of pins stuck into their flesh and of being haunted by specters. Believing that they suffered from assaults by an invisible spirit, the community began a hunt to track down those responsible
for the demonic work. The resulting Salem Witch Trials, culminating in the execution of 19 villagers, persists as one of the most mysterious and fascinating events in American history.

Historians…


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