The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England

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W. W. Norton & Company, Apr 7, 1998 - History - 370 pages
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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.


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User Review  - Angelic55blonde - LibraryThing

I read this book while in graduate school as I was researching the whole witchcraft trials both in the colonies and abroad. I liked this book because Carol put a lot of research behind this. She did a ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - AlexTheHunn - LibraryThing

Karlsen investigates the demographic background of the women caught up in the witchcraft trials in Colonial New England. Her findings on the relative economic and other power indicators provide insight into possible motives for the hysteria, other than religious zeal. Read full review


New Englands Witchcraft Beliefs
The Demographic Basis of Witchcraft
The Economic Basis of Witchcraft
Handmaidens of the Devil
Handmaidens of the Lord
New Englands Wellordered Society
Brands Plucked Out of the Burning
Afterword to The Norton Paperback Edition
List of Accused Witches
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About the author (1998)

Carol F. Karlsen is professor emerita of history at the University of Michigan.

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