Item of the Week: Sibly’s Witchcraft

Published: July 22, 2010

From Derek Quezada, Clark Library Assistant:

Although the occult exhibition has come and gone, we here at the Clark feel that a number of the books showcased still have a bit more to offer. One of them is an unusual manuscript entitled, A Treatise on Witchcraft (1793) by Ebenezer Sibly. Itself a transcription of another manuscript based on Edward Fairfax’s Daemonologia (1621), it relates the narrative of two young girls bewitched by a coven of malicious witches.

While the story is of course commonly available in printed form, what makes Sibly’s particular handwritten transcription of the tale worth revisiting is the inclusion of an index of fantastic hand-inked illustrations that depict, as Sibly says, “Figures to represent the Persons concerned in the foregoing History.” These figures, while chiefly human, also include a strange procession of phantasmagoric beasts. Everything from dragons and cyclops and satyrs and brownies are contained within and words are inadequate to convey their feverish design.

Its a real treat then to present to you a large sample of these illustrations, particularly as they remained largely invisible throughout the run of the exhibition. In fact the only thing that visitors could see of A Treatise on Witchcraft was the title page and frontispiece which gave only a  suggestion of the bizarre images just a few pages beyond. As you can see now then, it is a truly spectacular item of the week.

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Item of the Week: Witchy Recap « The Clog on

[…] A Turn of the Screws: Ebenezer Sibley’s A Treatise on Witchcraft Itself a transcription of another manuscript based on Edward Fairfax’s Daemonologia (1621), Sibley’s manuscript relates the narrative of two young girls bewitched by a coven of malicious witches. […]

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