On 19 April 1621, a woman named Elizabeth Sawyer was hanged at Tyburn. Her story was on the bookstalls within days and within weeks was adapted for the stage as The Witch of Edmonton. The devil stalks Edmonton in the shape of a large black dog and, just as Elizabeth Sawyer makes her demonic pact, the newlywed Frank Thorney enters into his own dark bargain in the shape of a second, bigamous marriage. Torn between sympathy for Sawyer and Thorney and a clear-eyed assessment of their crimes, the play was the finest and most nuanced treatment of witchcraft that the stage would see for centuries. Lucy Munro's introduction provides students and scholars with a detailed understanding of this complex play.
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