The Bewitching of Anne Gunter
A Horrible and True Story of Deception, Witchcraft, Murder, and the King of England
In 1604, 20-year-old Anne Gunter was bewitched: she foamed at the mouth, contorted wildly in her bedchamber, went into trances. Her garters and bodices were perpetually unlacing themselves. Her signature symptom was to vomit pins and "she voided some pins downwards as well by her water or otherwise.." Popular history at its best, "The Bewitching of Anne Gunter" opens a fascinating window onto the past. It's a tale of controlling fathers, willful daughters, nosy neighbors, power relations between peasants and gentry, and village life in early-modern Europe. Above all it's an original and revealing story of one young woman's experience with the greatly misunderstood phenomenon of witchcraft. James Sharpe is Professor of History at York University and the author of "Instruments of Darkness: Witchcraft in" "Early Modern History" and other works of social history.
"Sharpe makes readers feel for a little-known historical figure who - at a time when women were judged inferior - broke all the rules.No small feat in any era." -- Time Out New York
"Crammed with lore about demonic possession and the politics of exorcism.Sharpe's meticulously detailed reconstruction of a sensational English witchcraft case resonates with the modern era." --Publishers Weekly."
"An extraordinary case...Professor Sharpe, in this illuminating narrative, has given Anne Gunter her due moment of fame...extremely interesting and readable." -- Antonia Fraser, The London Times
"Sharpe (history, York Univ.) has produced a compelling popular study of the dynamics and intrigue of early modern European witch-hunting. Using extensive Court of Star Chamber documentation, he introduces the story of Anne Gunter, a 20-year-old maid from North Moreton, England, whose supposed afflictions at the hands of three alleged witches produced a series of trails from 1605-1608...Interweaving Anne Gunter's personal tale with that of the broader historical context of 17th century England, Sharpe skillfully illustrates the contemporary scholarly theory that most accusations of witchcraft were rooted in local rivalries and changing economic conditions. While distractingly repetitive and disappointing in its failure to reveal what became of the protagonist, this work gives a fascinating snapshot of a undergraduate and volatile the dangerous age. Recommended for general readers and as a undergraduate introduction. - J. W. Dippman, Central Washington University ."