Monday, June 10, 2013

Bridget Bishop Executed: The Salem Witch Trials

On this day in 1692, Sarah Bridget Bishop became the first person hanged after being convicted in the Salem Witch Trials.

Today we mark the anniversary with books about the Salem Witch Trials.


Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer. A fascinating account of the Salem witch trials that does an excellent job of putting the frenzy and fear into context. Often when books talk about the fear of Salem, it seems like everyone was afraid of being falsely accused. Schanzer shows us that many people were actually afraid of being attacked by witches, because it seems like anyone and everyone could be and was a witch.

The Crucible: A Play in Four Acts by Arthur Miller. This classic play about the Salem Witch Trials used the trials as a metaphor for McCarthyism-- something that contemporary audiences would have gotten but modern readers usually need explained to them. It works on both levels, though.

Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials by Stephanie Hemphill. This verse novel is told in the voices of Ann Putman Jr., Mercy Lewis, and Margaret Walcott, who accuse people of witchcraft for complicated and petty revenge.


Witch-Hunt: Mysteries of the Salem Witch Trials by Marc Aronson. This book lays out and dispels many of the myths about Salem, as well as examining differing theories as to why the hysteria and tragedy occurred, and looks at other metaphorical witch-hunts in US history.

A Break with Charity: A Story about the Salem Witch Trials by Ann Rinaldi. Susannah wants to be part of Ann Putnams group (Salem's version of cool kids) but when she joins, she gets caught in the accusation game. As it spirals out of control, Susannah wants to tell the truth, but the girls tell her that if she turns against them, they will accuse her and her family.

The Invisible World by Suzanne Weyn. Elsabeth has many paranormal gifts. When she and her family sail to the US, their ship wrecks and she finds herself sent to Salem as a servant. There, she's caught up in the trials. In Weyn's version, there are evil spirits on the lost, the Elsabeth must stop them without ending up as one of the accused.


The Minister's Daughter by Julie Hearn. When Nell finds herself pregnant and unwed in England in 1645, she accuses the local healer of witchcraft as an explanation for her condition, drawing in her little sister Patience. Decades later Patience finds herself testifying at another witch trial-- this one in Salem.

Father of Lies by Ann Turner. Lidda has episodes and visions-- marking her as different in Salem. Being different is the only thing that brings her solace-- until accusations of witchcraft start flying in the village. Can she expose the lies without being hanged?

The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent. Sarah and her mother don't always get along, but when her mother (Martha Carrier) is accused of witchcraft, both women stand trial, but only one survives. Published for adults, this is one older teen readers will enjoy.

What are your must-reads about Salem?

JUNE 19 UPDATE: my bad guys. It was Bridget Bishop, but Sarah Bishop that was the first person to be executed. Big thanks to Pamela Morris for pointing out my error and correcting me!

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  1. Sarah Bishop was NOT the first person hung in Salem on witchcraft charges. You have her confused with BRIDGET Bishop. Sarah and Bridget were both married to men named Edward Bishop though there is no evidence the two men were related, only speculation. SARAH and Edward, were both accused and tried but were sent to Boston Gaol to await their sentences. They escaped shortly after and hid out in New York until the witch craze in Salem was over.
    Upon their return, they settled in Beverly, MA.

  2. Thank you so much for pointing this out to me!

    I've corrected the post!


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