Fear in Writing: Witches

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Roald Dahl's The Witches.  Michael Gruber's The Witch's Boy.  Shakespeare's Macbeth.  The Witches of Eastwick.  Snow White.  Harry Potter.  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.

What do all these pieces of literature have in common?  You guessed it: witches.

It occurred to me last night while reading Dahl's story to my son that there are sooooooooo many witches in literature--something that would seemingly mean similar characters--and yet they are all sooooooooooo different.  Are Shakespeare's evil sisters comparable to the woman who takes in a child and learns to love in The Witch's Boy?  Compare even L. Frank Baum's Wicked Witch of the West to Gregory Maguire's Wicked.  They are meant to be comparative and near opposites--one a misunderstood version of the other.

Magic Circle by John
"Witches" date back to the some of the earliest recorded history, all over the globe.  Witch hunts first appear in the 14th century in Switzerland and France.  And yet, with as much as we know about witchcraft and wicca, the stories depicting witches are as different as the countries in which they practice.

What does this mean?  It means there are endless possibilities.  Think of the blogfests in which you've participated or visited.  With the same subject, each entry is completely different because of its author.  Don't be afraid of tackling a classical subject or taking on an old tale.  You can leave your mark.  And always explore different authors.  You just might learn something and you will definitely read a different point of view.


  1. Michele - You're quite right that witches, witchcraft, and fear of witches are all through literature. It could very well be that we fear what we don't understand and I like your analogy to reading new authors and books. You never know what you'll think of an author until you try his or her work, and you could discover something wonderful.

  2. Very good point. There are only so many original plots--but we all put our own spin on them.

  3. You're right - it's all in our own personal style.

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