The Lancashire Witches

By William Harrison Ainsworth
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The Lancashire Witches is the only one of William Harrison Ainsworth's 40 novels that has remained continuously in print since its first publication. The Lancashire Witches was serialised in the Sunday Times newspaper in 1848; a book edition of The Lancashire Witches appeared the following year, published by Henry Colburn.
The novel The Lancashire Witches is based on the true story of the Pendle witches, who were executed in 1612 for causing harm by witchcraft. Modern critics such as David Punter consider the book to be William Harrison Ainsworth's best work.

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William Harrison Ainsworth based his story The Lancashire Witches largely on the official account of the Lancashire witch trials.
Those protocols written by the clerk to the court, Thomas Potts, were first published in 1613 under the title The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster. Potts himself makes an appearance in the novel The Lancashire Witches, as a "scheming and self-serving lawyer".
Book one of The Lancashire Witches is set against the backdrop of the 1536 Pilgrimage of Grace, an uprising by northern Catholics against the English Reformation.

The subject of the Pendle witches was suggested to William Harrison Ainsworth by an antiquarian and long-time friend. During 1846 and 1847 William Harrison Ainsworth visited all of the major sites involved in the story of The Lancashire Witches, such as Pendle Hill and Malkin Tower, home of the Demdikes, one of the two families accused of witchcraft. (Summary by Wikipedia)

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