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The Salem Witch Trials

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Salem witch trials of 1692 and 1693, which led to the execution of 20 people in the New England colony of Massachusetts.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the outbreak of witch trials in Massachusetts in 1692-3, centred on Salem, which led to the execution of twenty people, with more dying in prison before or after trial. Some were men, including Giles Corey who died after being pressed with heavy rocks, but the majority were women. At its peak, around 150 people were suspected of witchcraft, including the wife of the governor who had established the trials. Many of the claims of witchcraft arose from personal rivalries in an area known for unrest, but were examined and upheld by the courts at a time of mass hysteria, belief in the devil, fear of attack by Native Americans and religious divisions.


Susan Castillo-Street
Harriet Beecher Stowe Professor Emerita of American Studies at King's College London

Simon Middleton
Senior Lecturer in American History at the University of Sheffield


Marion Gibson
Professor of Renaissance and Magical Literatures at Exeter University, Penryn Campus.

Producer: Simon Tillotson.

Available now

43 minutes

Last on

Thu 26 Nov 2015 21:30


Susan Castillo Street at King's College London

Simon Middleton at the University of Sheffield

Marion Gibson at the University of Exeter

Salem Witchcraft Trials: 1692

Salem Witch Trials: Documentary Archive and Transcription Project

Salem witch trials - Wikipedia



Christopher Bigsby, Arthur Miller (Harvard University Press, 2009)

Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum, Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft (Harvard University Press, 1974)

Elaine Breslaw, Tituba, Reluctant Witch of Salem: Devilish Indians and Puritan Fantasies (New York University Press, 1995)

Maryse Conde, I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem: A Novel (Faber & Faber, 2000)

John Demos, Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England (Oxford University Press, 1982)

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (W. W. Norton & Co, 1988)

Nathaniel Hawthorne, Selected Tales and Sketches (Penguin, 1987), especially ‘Alice Doane’s Appeal’ and ‘Young Goodman Brown’

Nathaniel Hawthorne (ed. Milton Sterne), The House of Seven Gables (Penguin, 1982)

Frances Hill, A Delusion of Satan: The Full Story of the Salem Witch (Doubleday, 1995)

Carol Karlsen, The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England (W. W. Norton & Co, 1988)

Arthur Miller, The Crucible (Penguin, 2000)

Mary Beth Norton, In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 (Alfred A. Knopf, 2002)

Elizabeth Reis, Damned Women: Sinners and Witches in Puritan New England (Cornell University Press, 1997)

Bernard Rosenthal, Salem Story: Reading the Witch Trials of 1692 (Cambridge University Press, 1993)

Stacy Schiff, The Witches: Salem 1692 (Little, Brown and Company, 2015)

William Carlos Williams, Many Loves and Other Plays (New Directions, 1961), especially ‘Tituba’s Children’


Role Contributor
Presenter Melvyn Bragg
Interviewed Guest Susan Castillo-Street
Interviewed Guest Simon Middleton
Interviewed Guest Marion Gibson
Producer Simon Tillotson


  • Thu 26 Nov 2015 09:00
  • Thu 26 Nov 2015 21:30

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