Demonology and Witchcraft (by Sir Walter
This work, first published in 1830 under the full title Letters
on Demonology and Witchcraft, occupies a curious place in Sir
Walter Scott’s vast literary output. Four years after his financial
collapse in 1826, the author sustained a mild stroke; shortly
after, John Murray, who was then issuing a series known as The
Family Library, asked Scott to contribute a volume on demonology.
He readily consented, but—as an entry in Scott’s journal
makes clear—he did not greatly care for the work and really engaged
in it to help pay off his debts.
The book attempts to develop broad theories on such subjects
as the prevalence of belief in witchcraft in the Middle
Ages. Scott was far more accomplished in dealing with particular
instances of occult history—such as his account of demonology
in France and in Sweden and his assessment of Joan of Arc.
Moreover, his intimate knowledge of early Scottish literature
gives a singular importance to chapters concerned with his native
land, and it is interesting to find that here and there he ofEncyclopedia
of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Demonology and Witchcraft
fers something of a sidelight on his own novels (e.g., when he
discusses the specters he dealt with in Woodstock).
Demonology and Witchcraft is written in the form of a series of
letters to the author’s son-in-law. Scott died two years after publication
in 1832. The book has been reprinted frequently.
Scott, Sir Walter. Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft. London
J. Murray, 1830.

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