Grace Flanagan began researching the topic of the ‘witch hunt’ or ‘witch craze’ in the early modern period over a year ago and she was a joint winner of the 2017 Vellacott History prize, awarded by Peterhouse College, Cambridge, for her essay "Why did early modern people accuse their neighbours of being witches?". Last week, Grace further demonstrated her passion for and expertise in the topic by treating a Woldingham audience to a fascinating lecture entitled “Why Were Witches Women?”
As well as reviewing the work of numerous historians, Grace has studied literature contemporary to the approximately three hundred year long witch craze, as well as many drawings and etchings from the period. By her own admission not previously an art lover, Grace explained how she has come to realise that a huge amount of information can be gleaned from the visual culture of the period and shared some of these learnings – and drawings - with her audience.
Grace’s well-constructed, eloquent lecture covered the many and complex reasons why the vast majority of us still picture a witch as female (while informing us that men and children were in fact also accused of witchcraft and that “in Iceland 92% of witches were male”) and left us in no doubt of her authority on the subject.