Scepticism and belief in English witchcraft drama, 1538-1681

By Eric Pudney

Scepticism and belief in English witchcraft drama, 1538-1681


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-9-1983-7686-9
  • Pages: 360
  • Publisher: Lund University Press
  • Price: £25.00
  • Published Date: March 2019
  • BIC Category: Early Modern Literature, Theatre Studies, Witchcraft, Literary studies: plays & playwrights, England, Classic & pre-20th century plays, 17th century, c 1600 to c 1699, 16th century, c 1500 to c 1599, LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 17th Century, LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 16th Century, BODY, MIND & SPIRIT / Witchcraft, LITERARY CRITICISM / Drama, Humanities / Early modern history: c 1450/1500 to c 1700, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: plays & playwrights
  • Series: Lund University Press


Winner of the 2019 Warburg Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities for an outstanding work of literary history

This is a study of the representation of witches in early modern English drama, organised around the themes of scepticism and belief. It covers the entire early modern period, including the Restoration, and pays particular attention to three plays in which witchcraft is central: The Witch of Edmonton (1621), The Late Lancashire Witches (1634) and The Lancashire Witches (1681). Always a controversial issue, witchcraft has traditionally been seen in terms of a debate between 'sceptics' and 'believers'. This book argues instead that, while the concepts of scepticism and belief are central to an understanding of early modern witchcraft, they are more fruitfully understood not as static and mutually exclusive positions within the witchcraft debate, but as rhetorical tools used by both sides.

An electronic version of this book is available under a creative commons licence:


1 Scepticism in the Renaissance
2 Witchcraft in Elizabethan drama
3 Witchcraft in Jacobean drama
4 The Witch of Edmonton
5 The Late Lancashire Witches
6 Witchcraft in the Restoration
7 The Lancashire Witches


Eric Pudney is an Affiliated Researcher at Lund University

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