Malcolm Gaskill on The Ruin of All Witches

In this talk first delivered in November 2021, Malcolm Gaskill examines a witch-hunt in the community of Springfield, western Massachusetts, in the late 1640s

VL_Malcolm Gaskill Video

This is a real-life folktale about a witch-hunt in the community of Springfield, western Massachusetts, in the late 1640s. In a town blighted by misfortune, the suspicions of neighbours settle on a married couple, Hugh and Mary Parsons – he threatening, she delusional. When husband and wife accuse each other of witchcraft, their fate is sealed. A parable for our times, the tragedy of Hugh and Mary is a study in intolerance and ostracism, the instability of truth, and the destructive power of emotion.

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Malcolm Gaskill is Emeritus Professor of Early Modern History at the University of East Anglia. One of Britain’s leading experts in the history of witchcraft, his works include the highly acclaimed Witchfinders: A Seventeenth-Century English Tragedy and Between Two Worlds: How the English Became Americans. His most recent book, The Ruin of All Witches, is a dark and compelling real-life folklore of a colonial witch-hunt in early 17th-century New England.