Mary Sharratt is an American writer who has lived in the Pendle region of Lancashire, England for the past seven years. Her inspiration for
Daughters of the Witching Hill arose directly out of the wild, brooding landscape: the story of the Pendle Witches unfolded almost literally in her backyard.
Winner of the 2005 WILLA Literary Award and a Minnesota Book Award Finalist, Mary is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Summit Avenue, The Real Minerva and The Vanishing Point. Her first two novels were Book Sense picks, and The Vanishing Point was a UK Guardian Readers Book of the Year. She is also the co-editor of the subversive UK fiction anthology, Bitch Lit, a celebration of female anti-heroes which was featured in The Guardian and on BBC Radio 4s Womens Hour. Marys short stories have been widely published in journals and anthologies on both sides of the Atlantic, including the recent Twin Cities Noir.
A former Historical Novels Society Reviews editor, Mary writes regular feature articles and author profiles for Solander and The Historical Novels Review.
When Mary isnt writing fiction, she is usually off riding Boushka, her beautiful and spirited Welsh mare who is making a cameo appearance in Daughters of the Witching Hill as Alice Nutters horse.
Mary returns regularly to her hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota where she teaches workshops at The Loft Literary Center"
"The thing that gets me most excited is coaching my students on the power of story, the art of drawing the reader into the thick of the narrative. My job is helping my students discover the stories they need to tell and helping them develop their narrative voice. Then I stand back and listen to their stories unfold, spinning themselves on their own power."
Her new novel, Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen, will publish in the USA in October 2012.
This biography was last updated on 08/07/2012.
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How I Became a Daughter of the Witching Hill
by Mary Sharratt
In bleak midwinter 2002, I moved to rural Lancashire, in northern England, an incongruous place for an American expat. The first months were so oppressively dark, I felt I was trapped inside some claustrophobic gothic novel. But then came spring in a tide of bluebells and hawthorn. The wild Pennine landscape cast its spell on me.
I live at the foot of Pendle Hill, famous throughout the world as the place where George Fox received his vision that moved him to found the Quaker religion in 1652. But Pendle is also steeped in its legends of the Lancashire Witches.
In 1612, seven women and two men from Pendle Forest were hanged for witchcraft. The most notorious of the accused, Bess Southerns, aka Old Demdike, cheated the hangman by dying in prison. This is how Thomas Potts describes her in The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster:
She was a very old woman, about the age of Foure-score yeares, and had been a Witch for fiftie yeares. Shee dwelt in the Forrest of Pendle, a vast place, fitte for her profession: What shee committed in her time, no man knowes ... Shee was a generall agent for the Devill in all these partes:...
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