The Bideford Witches: John Callow and Shami Chakrabarti in Conversation

John Callow and Shami Chakrabarti

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Due to unforeseen circumstances this is event has been postponed. New dates in Autumn 2022 to be announced shortly. Those who have booked tickets will be contacted by our customer services team.

This event takes place in the British Library Theatre and will be simultaneously live streamed on the British Library platform. Tickets may be booked either to attend in person, or to watch on our platform (online) either live or within 48 hours on catch up. In-person ticket bookers will also be sent a bonus link to the online event. Viewing links will be sent out shortly before the event.

The online version of this event will be live captioned.

On a Thursday in 1682, a magpie tapped at the window of a prosperous Devon merchant. Within a matter of hours, his family and servants had convinced themselves that the bird was an emissary of the devil, invoked by witchcraft. As the result of the fearful allegations that followed, three women of Bideford were condemned as witches. They were the last group of women to be executed in England for the crime.

In his fascinating book The Last Witches of England: A Tragedy of Sorcery and Superstition, John Callow charts the changing attitudes towards the Bideford women, from revulsion to regret, into celebration in our own age. He is joined by human rights lawyer, campaigner and writer Shami Chakrabarti. Together they’ll uncover the tragedy of the Bideford women and ask what it tells us about present day persecution and the dangers of demonising others.

Part of Light Source: A Festival of the Accused which explores the true stories of those accused of witchcraft.

John Callow is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Suffolk, UK, who has written widely on early modern witchcraft, politics and popular culture. His latest book is The Last Witches of England: A Tragedy of Sorcery and Superstition (Bloomsbury Academic, 2021).

Shami Chakrabarti (Baroness Chakrabarti CBE PC) is a human rights lawyer and campaigner, Labour Peer and was Shadow Attorney General, 2016 to 2020. She was the Director of Liberty from 2003 to 2016 and a panelist on the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics after the phone-hacking scandal. She was the Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University and of the University of Essex and served on the Board of the British Film Institute (BFI) for many years. Shami has written and broadcast widely and is the author of two books; On Liberty (2014) and Of Women (2017).

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Name: The Bideford Witches: John Callow and Shami Chakrabarti in Conversation
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546