The Witches of the 17th Century
Being a pagan/witch, I’ve always taken an interest in witches of the past and of course heard many tales of the torture and execution of men, women and children. Matthew Hopkins, The Witchfinder General was the witches bad guy. The man who tortured and killed over 200 innocents in a two year period, but I didn’t really give him much thought. Then it came to me choosing a dissertation subject.
If you’d have asked at the start of my academic study who I’d have studied I’d have told you that it would have been something based on the Tudors. But by my second year, I realised that when it came to the Tudors, it was so saturated what could I possibly add to it? What was left to say? So then I decided I would look at a local legend that was Guy Fawkes. I wanted to find out what it was about this man who was essentially a terrorist that had captured our hearts. But it just wouldn’t stick and then it came to me. Matthew Hopkins. I would do my study on him and his persecution of witches.
At the time, I was currently studying the English Civil War and was struggling to understand the politics and who was who, so how would I be able to understand the environment that Hopkins was working with? But in the end I knew this was what I wanted to commit to, so I pushed myself to understand.
One of the most surprising things was the more I read and studied the more I began to change my views. The man began to work his way under my skin and I saw him less of a monster but more of an opportunist desperate to make an impact within an unsteady world. Yes, I know that many are going to jump on this and question it, but it’s the truth of how I felt. My tutor even said you have a knack for sympathizing with the bad guy considering my passion for Henry VIII.
He’s right of course. In my writing, I will take the bad guy and turn him into something else. The anti hero. I did it with Morgan le Fay. I just want you to look at a character in a different way and think about it three dimensionally. But before you jump on this and say but he murdered innocents. I agree, Hopkins did but did he kill witches? This I’m not sure is 100% true. The last witch her tried gives me doubts which I’ll share in time. But right now Hopkins is the new centre character in my new book and already in forums the snippets have had a good response. Excellent, I hear you say. Well, this makes me nervous. I’ve no idea who I’m going to write him just yet. Will I give him a traditional battering as the Witches bad guy or will I take the risk and make you see another side to the man? A man who was so desperate by the end of his career that he did something different with one of his last recorded witches.
Well I suppose I will find out and allow him to take me by the hand and possibly to noose. He will either stand with me or against me. It will work or it will flop but I’ve no choice but to write it and love every minute.