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"A pioneer work in…the sexual structuring of society. This is not just another book about witchcraft." —Edmund S. Morgan, Yale University
Confessing to "familiarity with the devils," Mary Johnson, a servant, was executed by Connecticut officials in 1648. A wealthy Boston widow, Ann Hibbens was hanged in 1656 for casting spells on her neighbors. The case of Ann Cole, who was "taken with very strange Fits," fueled an outbreak of witchcraft accusations in Hartford a generation before the notorious events at Salem.
More than three hundred years later, the question "Why?" still haunts us. Why were these and other women likely witches—vulnerable to accusations of witchcraft and possession? Carol F. Karlsen reveals the social construction of witchcraft in seventeenth-century New England and illuminates the larger contours of gender relations in that society.
“A remarkable achievement. The 'witches' come alive in this book, not as stereotypes, but as real women living in a society that suspected and feared their independence and combativeness.” — Mary Beth Norton, Mary Donlon Alger Professor of American History, Cornell University