Lives of the Necromancers
The political philosopher and writer William Godwin (1756-1836), who was also the husband of writer Mary Wollstonecraft and father of Mary Shelley, was known for his philosophical works and novels. In this work, originally published in 1834, Godwin turns to the issue of the supernatural, and to some of the famous - and sometimes unexpected - people associated with it. He begins by defining some magic practices, such as divination, astrology, and necromancy, giving examples of the latter from the Bible. The remainder of the work consists of brief sketches of people and places involved in the occult world, beginning in the Ancient Middle East and Greece, surveying the Christian era in Europe, and ending with the New England witch trials. In a remarkable work of synthesis, he discusses apparently supernatural episodes in the lives of many historical figures, from Socrates and Virgil to Joan of Arc and James I.