Will Call Episode #57: Stacy Schiff — The Witches: Salem 1692

July 14, 2017

(from released information)

HANCOCK, Mass.—A native of Adams who majored in art history at Williams College, Stacy Schiff is a best-selling Pulitzer-prize winning author – most recently of The Witches: Salem 1692 – who will discuss the intersection of politics and hysteria at Hancock Shaker Village on Friday, July 14, 2017.

Composite image created from cover of The Witches: Salem 1692 and "Witches flying on broomsticks," from The history of witches and wizards," 1720; Wellcome Library, London; CC BY 4.0
Composite image of cover for The Witches: Salem 1692 and “Witches flying on broomsticks,” from The history of witches and wizards,” 1720; Wellcome Library, London; CC BY 4.0


”The hottest biographer on the block,” according to Vanity Fair, Schiff is the author of numerous biographies, as well as essays and articles have appeared in The New YorkerThe New York Times, and The New York Review of Books. Schiff won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Vera, a biography of Vera Nabokov, wife and muse of Vladimir Nabokov, and her Cleopatra was #1 on The New York Times bestseller list. She was also a finalist for the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography for Saint-Exupéry: A Biography of Antoine de Saint Exupéry.  “With The Witches Schiff is at her best,” continued Vanity Fair, “infusing a historical event with as much life, mystey, and tragedy of any novelist.”

Stacy Schiff; photo by Elena Seibert.
Stacy Schiff; photo by Elena Seibert.


“She’s perhaps the most seductive writer of nonfiction prose in America in our time,” said novelist Brad Gooch.

“Settlements were isolated and lit with only smoky fires, which fed vivid imagination. New Englanders lived very much in the dark, where one listens more acutely, feels most passionately, and imagines most vividly, where the sacred and the occult thrive,” writes Schiff.   The Witches entailed voluminous research, and Schiff conjures up late-17th-century New England with gripping detail.

Come be seduced.   Meet the bestselling author over dinner, when she talks about the witch trials: what we know, what we think we know, and what we indeed should know.

The evening includes a seasonal, neighborhood sourced, three-course dinner prepared by noted regional chef Brian Alberg, wine, and a copy of the author’s book.

The Salem Witch Trials, by Unknown [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Salem Witch Trials, by Unknown [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Dinner with Stacy Schiff is part of a series of important authors talking about far-ranging subjects of relevance today.  Far ahead of their time, the Shakers addressed issues as far ranging as gender equality, sustainability, land renewal, racial equality, pacifism, and shared economies decades before fashionable, let alone there being a vocabulary to address such subjects. Hancock Shaker Village’s Food for Thought is a monthly dinner series with today’s best thinkers, who address topics of relevance to our world today.  The series is sponsored by October Mountain Financial Advisors.

The next Food for Thought dinner in the series is Friday, August 11 with Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer-prize winning author of The New York Times bestseller The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.

But don’t listen to us…Here’s what the critics say:

“An oppressive, forensic, psychological thriller: J. K. Rowling meets Antony Beevor, Stephen King, and Marina Warner… Schiff’s writing is to die for.” The Times (London)

“Schiff excels at finding fresh angles on familiar stories, carries out massive research and then weaves it into a dazzling social panorama.”  Elaine Showalter, The Washington Post

“She writes with such spirit and agility that to read her books is something like watching a great dancer. To say that her latest book is fascinating and insightful is hardly sufficient. It’s brilliant from start to finish.” David McCullough, Favorite Reads of 2015

“Eerie and engrossing. Schiff is a proven spellbinder.” Maureen Corrigan, NPR

“In this beautiful retelling of one of our ugliest tales, Schiff describes the sheer strangeness of the trials and the society from which they spring.” Boston Globe, Best Nonfiction Books of 2015


Home to the Shakers for more than 220 years, Hancock Shaker Village is now an outdoor history museum dedicated to preserving the Shaker legacy and making that story relevant and illuminating for today’s visitors. Situated on 750 acres of picturesque farm, field, and woodland in the bucolic Berkshires of Massachusetts, the Village consists of 20 historic buildings, a working farm and heirloom gardens, and a premier collection of 22,000 authentic Shaker artifacts.







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