The English historian and antiquary Thomas Wright (1810–70) co-founded and joined a number of antiquarian and literary societies. He was greatly interested in Old English, Middle English and Anglo-Norman texts, and in the 1840s and 1850s he published widely within these areas. Gradually his focus shifted to the archaeology of Roman Britain and to Anglo-Saxon cemeteries. Although much of Wright's research has been completely superseded, his work is still considered worth consulting, as he collected material not readily available elsewhere. This 1851 publication is testimony to Wright's interest in folklore, sorcery and legend. Volume 1 deals with European sorcery, and sixteenth-century English characters such as Dr John Dee; it also examines the legend of Dr Faustus. Volume 2 surveys the seventeenth century, and includes such important instances as the alleged demonic possession of the Ursuline nuns of Loudun, and the witchcraft hysteria which led to the Salem Witch Trials.
Volume 1: 1. Introduction; 2. Story of the lady Alice Kyteler; 3. Further political usage of the belief in sorcery. The Templars; 4. Sorcery in France. The citizens of Arras; 5. The lord of Mirebeau and Pierre d'Estaing the alchemist; 6. The earlier medieval type of the sorcerer. Virgil the enchanter; 7. The later medieval types of the magician. Friar Bacon and Dr Faustus; 8. Sorcery in Germany in the fifteenth century. The Malleus Maleficarum; 9. Witchcraft in Scotland in the sixteenth century; 10. King James and the witches of Lothian; 11. Magic in England during the age of the Reformation; 12. The English magicians. Dr Dee and his followers; 13. The witches of Warboys; 14. The poetry of witchcraft; 15. Witchcraft in France in the sixteenth century; 16. Pierre de Lancre and the witches of Labourd; 17. Magic in Spain. The auto-da-fé of Logrono. Volume 2: 18. Adventures of Doctor Torralva; 19. Trial of the Earl and Countess of Somerset; 20. La maréchale d'Ancre; 21. Louis Gaufridi; 22. The Ursulines of Loudun; 23. The Lancashire witches; 24. Witchcraft in England during the earlier part of the seventeenth century; 25. Witchcraft under the Commonwealth. Matthew Hopkins the Witch-finder; 26. Witchcraft in Germany, in the earlier part of the seventeenth-century; 27. The witches of Scotland under King James after his accession to the English throne; 28. Confessions of Isobel Gowdie; 29. The witches of Mohra in Sweden; 30. Sir Matthew Hale and Chief Justice Holt; 31. The doings of Satan in New England; 32. Conclusion.