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Hellish Nell By Malcolm Gaskill

Hellish Nell by Malcolm Gaskill

Condition - Very Good
$67.99
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Summary

The 1735 Witchcraft Act was used for the last time in Portsmouth in 1944. The accused was Helen Duncan, a plump Scotswoman, convicted as a fraud yet believed by hundreds to possess the power to speak to the dead. This is her extraordinary story.

Hellish Nell Summary

Hellish Nell: Last of Britain's Witches by Malcolm Gaskill

The 1735 Witchcraft Act was used for the last time in Portsmouth in 1944. The accused was Helen Duncan, a plump Scotswoman, convicted as a fraud yet believed by hundreds to possess the power to speak to the dead. This is her extraordinary story. Helen Duncan was born in Callander in 1898 and developed mysterious powers during the First World War, when she correctly predicted the guise of the soldier she would marry. Having refined these powers she became increasingly celebrated following her own near death from pneumonia when she was informed of her vocation by a shadowy white figure. She went on to produce spirit forms from ectoplasm that, she said, flowed through her. She was accompanied by a spirit guide named Albert and a young girl spirit named Peggy. Or was she? The Psychic community was divided in two fiercely opposing camps -- followers and sceptics. The government of the day got involved (Churchill was said to be more than a little interested) when, during WW2 Helen appeared able to tell relatives of the deaths of their loved ones even before offical announcements had been made. And so in 1944, absurdly, anachronistically, she was charged with witchcraft, prosecuted and jailed for the duration of the war. Her life is an amazing glimpse into the spritiual and psychological mood of the times, a story of bathos and absurdity, of credulity and cruelty, and of England's last witch.

Hellish Nell Reviews

'Nothing can disguise the strength of the material on display, or the sense of a great swathe of early 20th century mental life brought out into sharp but by no means unsympathetic modern light'. D.J. Taylor, SUNDAY TIMES 'A fascinating account' Lesley McDowell, INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY 'Malcolm Gaskill has researched the whole story of Helen Duncan's life with extreme thoroughness; his account sparkles with dry humour, but is not without sympathy too. Its main value -- apart from!sheer entertainment-value -- lies in the light it shines on the social phenomenon of spiritualism in early 20th-century Britain' SUNDAY TELEGRAPH 'Comprehensive and scholarly, and also extremely readable, being full of trenchant phrases and vivid analogies. It is balanced, fair and a salutary reminder, in our secularised society, that belief in the supernatural is still endemic.' LITERARY REVIEW

About Malcolm Gaskill

Malcolm Gaskill teaches History at Cambridge University where he is Fellow and Director of Studies at Churchill College. He specialises in the history of witchcraft and popular beliefs, and is the author of CRIME AND MENTALITIES IN EARLY MODERN ENGLAND.

Additional information

GOR001242129
9781841151106
1841151106
Hellish Nell: Last of Britain's Witches by Malcolm Gaskill
Used - Very Good
Paperback
HarperCollins Publishers
2002-04-02
426
N/A
Book picture is for illustrative purposes only, actual binding, cover or edition may vary.
This is a used book - there is no escaping the fact it has been read by someone else and it will show signs of wear and previous use. Overall we expect it to be in very good condition, but if you are not entirely satisfied please get in touch with us

Customer Reviews - Hellish Nell