Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and Their Accusers in the Salem Witch TrialsSix Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and Their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials

(Da Capo Press paperback original, 2013)

“A bloody good read.”  —

“Exhaustive and imaginative, SIX WOMEN OF SALEM shines light on an accursed moment in the history of our country.  I read it compulsively—dare I say it—quite bewitched with Marilynne K. Roach’s compendious recreation.  Couldn’t put it down.”  —Gregory Maguire, bestselling author of WICKED and other novels in The Wicked Years sequence

Six Women of Salem retells the story of the Salem Witch Trials through a rich merging of the historian’s meticulous recovery of the past with the novelist’s freedom to create engaging, imaginative insights into the lives of selected characters.  The book is a splendid achievement and should be rewarding for those who want to learn what happened in 1692–93 and beyond as well as for those who already know that history.  A compelling read.”

Bernard Rosenthal, SUNY Binghamton, author of Salem Story: Reading the Witch Trials of 1692, and editor-in-chief of Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt: A Comprehensive and Newly Transcribed Edition of Legal Documents Pertaining to the Salem Witch Trials

“American history sometimes forgets that we were a society before the American Revolution.  One of the more famous, and darker, events from this time was the Salem Witch Trials.  Marilynne K. Roach researched these trials so much that she brings us into the courtroom and lets us feel the pain of the six most famous women.  For a second, like witchcraft, we step into the shoes of Bridget Bishop and Ann Putnam, and feel how they felt on those final days.  The book is super detailed and fantastically informative on the subject.  For a novice, it’s an eye opening piece of work, especially with all the hard work that Roach obviously put into the book.  Each page drips with an honest and impartial narrative. . . .  You really feel like you are there, in the seventeenth century, watching and seeing these women.  . . .  Roach has done a great job in honoring the memories of these women with a tasteful and harmonious book.”

Kevin Brown, San Francisco Book Review / Sacramento Book Review

“For those of you that are fascinated with history this is one book that you will definitely love. . . .  A magnificent job.  It is such a comprehensive book.  There are so many details that are not mentioned in the usual discussions about Salem, much less the witch trials.  This is a prime example of the ability for human beings to inflict cruelty on one another based upon greed or jealousy among a number of different factors that went into the accusations. . . .  People that read SIX WOMEN OF SALEM will get a better understanding of what exactly happened during this period of time and just how crazy things were. . . .  If you are a history buff, you will love Marilynne Roach’s book.”

June Stoyer, The Organic View Radio Show

“[Full of] the author’s deep knowledge of virtually every man, woman and child affected by the trials in this bizarre period.”

 —Kirkus Review

“In Six Women of Salem, Roach skillfully tells the harrowing story of the trials, focusing in particular on six women involved in them: Tituba, the slave who, with her accusations, started it all; Rebecca Nurse and Bridget Bishop, two old women found guilty of witchcraft and condemned to death; Ann Putnam, the mother of one of the accusers, a little girl who claimed she could see the spirits of the ‘witches’ hurting people; Mary English, a rich woman accused of witchcraft who managed to flee from prison; and Mary Warren, who went from accused to accuser.  The book is divided into three parts. The first tells us who these women were and what they did before the witch hunting madness swept through Salem. . . .  The second part tells the story of the trials.  Each chapter begins and ends with a short fictional account about one of the six female protagonists.  Through this device, Roach really brings the trials to life and reminds us that these women were once real and alive, and it’s impossible for the reader not to relate to them and feel sorry for them.  All of them, even the accusers. . . .  Finally, the last section tells us what happened to the women who survived and to the families of those who didn’t.  Six Women Of Salem is one of the best books that I’ve read in a long time.  It is accurate, well-researched and very informative, but is also very emotional.  The story is told in an engaging style that makes the reader feels like he or she too is in Salem while this horrible page of history is being written.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in the Salem witch trials.”

History & Other Thoughts Book Review

“A wonderful book. . . .  What Roach brings to the table with this offering is the humanization of the accused as well as providing a smaller scope of the trials.  Rather than looking at the trials in a larger overview, she takes these six women and gets into extraordinary detail about their lives. . . .  Outstanding.”

Bert’s Book Review Blog, Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)

“Now more than ever, the United States seems determined to lurch forward with little regard for history. . . .  What Six Women of Salem has to teach us is that issues of class and race, of gender, of religion, of community, of obedience and subservience, were as crucial and complex in 1692 and 1693 as they are today, however different the settings and the people.  In fact, it is by showing some of those involved in the Salem Witch Trials as people rather than types that Marilynne K. Roach is most effective.  She chooses to profile six of the 255 people involved in the colony’s extended trauma:  Sharp-tongued widow Bridget Bishop, educated Mary English, elderly Rebecca Nurse, anxiety-ridden Ann Putnam, the slave Tituba, and the hired girl Mary Warren are all portrayed with care and sensitivity. . . .  [This book is] by and large worthwhile, because there emerges here a greater sense of the underlying humanity of the people involved in the Salem Witch Trials than other books about the subject have provided.  It is very hard today to understand the mindset and circumstances in which the trials took place, but Roach so successfully humanizes her chosen six that some of the sense of being real-world people rubs off on those around them as well—even on those who accused the supposed witches, tried them, and executed them. . . .  For more than 400 pages, from the initial set of introductions that portray the six women effectively, through the events that ran from February 1692 to May 1693, Roach shows how thoroughly she has researched her subject (on which she has written before and is considered an expert) while also giving modern readers something to think about in our own days of social and political witch hunts.”

The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under SiegeThe Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege

(Cooper Square Press hardcover, 2002; Taylor Trade paperback, 2004)

“!!!! Exceptional.”  —Rating by Today’s Books

“The single most comprehensive treatment, a virtual encyclopedia of the affair.” 

John Demos, author of The Enemy Within

“How did the witchcraft hysteria come about?  Did the imagination of the townspeople run wild so that they viewed un-neighborly acts as an evil threat promulgated by Satan’s minions?  Roach answers these and other questions in her monumental daily chronology of the trials years. . . .  With workmanlike precision she provides historical details—such as the conflicts between church congregations and ministers and the increasing frequency of Indian attacks—as she contends that the hysteria arose most likely from the political, religious, and social turmoil of the time.  Using newly available diaries, journals, and letters, Roach then reconstructs, for the first time, daily life during the height of the witch trials as well as accounts of court proceedings, arrests, and suspects’ confessions. . . .  Roach’s detailed reference book provides deep insights into the trial years by letting us listen to the voices of everyone involved.” 

Publishers Weekly

“A wrenching cautionary tale of complicity, pettiness, and mass hysteria. . . .  Organized into parts, each part representing a year from 1692 to 1697, with each part divided in turn into month-long chapters and each chapter divided into days, the result is a work that is at once a narrative for those wanting to see the larger sweep of things and a reference book for those who want to look at events of a particular day.  Roach stresses a wider context.  She included events occurring from New York City to London.  Local events were only ‘a catalyst for problems that were region-wide,’ she states.  The connection of the trials and executions to the wars in Maine and elsewhere become clear in the unfolding narrative. . . .  Roach lets the facts speak for themselves. . . .  This work, in its approach, in its attention to context, and in its close reading of the primary sources, sets the bar even higher for further studies of Salem.” 

Kenneth P. Minkema, Christian Century, professor of American religious history at Yale University and executive editor of Yale’s WORKS OF JONATHAN EDWARDS

“There have been many books written on the Salem witch trials, but Roach’s book is a remarkable achievement, the result of nearly thirty years of research.  The book provides an exhaustive and chronological day-by-day account of the trials, spanning 1692 to 1697.  The book also provides an interesting look at the social conditions and pre-existing worldviews that led to the hysteria and tragedies of that fearful Puritan community. . . .  The book vividly recounts the accusations, imprisonments, and deaths.” 

Skeptical Inquirer

“Exceptionally valuable, meticulously researched. . . .   Readers and scholars, whether they agree or disagree with Roach’s approach and conclusions, will be delighted to have such a useful work.” 

Bernard Rosenthal, SUNY Binghamton, author of Salem Story: Reading the Witch Trials of 1692, and editor-in-chief of Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt: A Comprehensive and Newly Transcribed Edition of Legal Documents Pertaining to the Salem Witch Trials

“Roach’s meticulous research has produced a work that will be welcomed by all those interested in the Salem witch trials.  Now we have a reliable, comprehensive, chronological record of key events during the years 1692 through early 1697.” 

Mary Beth Norton, Cornell University, author of In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692

“What an accomplishment!  Marilynne Roach tells the story with rare detail and deep understanding.  Her scholarship and sensibility make THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS an invaluable must-have for those interested in the trials and the times.  Reading her work is almost like being there.  Outstanding.” 

Alison D’Amario, Director of Education, The Salem Witch Museum

“The only day-by-day account of the Salem witch trials ever written.  Marilynne Roach has created a fascinating chronicle of the witchcraft episode and its long aftermath.  The book is filled with revealing social and psychological detail, and is accurately and gracefully written.  A compelling read.” 

Benjamin C. Ray, University of Virginia, Director, Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive

“A reconstruction of the trials and the time of the accusations and trials, showing the church conflicts, the Indian attacks, and other political and religious troubles.”, selected as one of the “Top 10 Books on the Salem Witch Trials”

“Imagine you were involved in the Salem Witch Trials.  You might have been a victim, or you might have been an accuser.  Before your eyes desperate scenes would have played out from day to day, events carrying everyone and everything toward the shadow of the gallows.  But you wouldn’t know that.  You wouldn’t know until the end where it was headed, that there was no plague of witches, that your community was in the process of committing an injustice that would ring down through the centuries.  Marilynne roach wondered what it must have been like to live through those tumultuous years, day by day.  Then she did more than wonder; she began piecing things together, every event in the story, every scrap of information, into a smoothly written narrative.”

Salem News

“Easily the most useful book ever published on the subject.  I was deeply impressed by the depth of Roach’s research, the straightforward presentation, and lack of bias.  Roach isn’t trying to convince readers it was ergot, sexual repression, community pressure, or whatever other theory that’s been cherished by others.” 

Robert Damon Schneck, regular contributor to Fate Magazine and Fortean Times, and author of THE PRESIDENT’S VAMPIRE: Strange-But-True Tales of the United States of America

“Valuable. . . .  [This book] makes an important contribution to the ongoing debate. . . .  Marilynne K. Roach has provided an important guidebook and reference work which provides easy access to all the surviving documents and which all future researchers on the subject will need to consult.”

The American Genealogist

“Roach reveals new information from heretofore unpublished original documents and presents a clear understanding of its principal personalities.  The result is an authoritative work that contradicts earlier assumptions about the events at Salem.” 

New England Ancestors, New England Historic Genealogical Society

Records of the Salem Witch-HuntRecords of the Salem Witch-Hunt

(Bernard Rosenthal, editor in chief. Cambridge University Press, 2009 )

“Until the current publication, scholars depended upon the 1938 WPA transcriptions published in three volumes in 1977. That work is superceded by this single massive volume (which includes additional documents discovered since the 1930s., edited by Bernard Rosenthal and his colleagues. [Supplementary material includes] MARILYNNE ROACH’s exhaustive ‘Biographical Notes,’ on all individuals mentioned in the original documents. . . . this is a publication of the greatest significance that should be obtained by any individual and library interested in colonial New England and its history and genealogy—and the intricate connections between myth and historical fact.”

David L. Greene, editor The American Genealogist

“What a Herculean undertaking this book represents. All of the witchcraft papers brought seamlessly together in a neat, tidy, well–organized volume that explains the unclear, points out gaps and alternative spellings, and even provides brief biographies of the players.”

Amazon 5 star review (out of 5), Don Spinetta

“The new definitive sourcebook . . . I really can’t overemphasize the quality of this new resource book on the witchcraft trials. The research here is meticulous, and the organization is outstanding. This collection will make the witch trials history more accessible to general readers, but it will be especially exciting tp scholars, historians, and experts on Salem, who will revel in the new information that this book brings to light.”

Amazon 5 star review (out of 5), “User of Stuff”

© Marilynne K. Roach