An epic story teeming with people on the move, making decisions, indulging or resisting their desires and dreams.
In the seventeenth century over a third of a million men, women, and children left England’s shores for America. Some were explorers and merchants, others soldiers and missionaries; many were fugitives from poverty and persecution. All, in their own way, were adventurers, risking their lives and fortunes to make something of themselves overseas. They irrevocably changed the land and indigenous peoples they encountered – and their new world changed them.
But that was only half the story. The plantations established from Maine to the Caribbean needed support at home, especially money and royal endorsement, which made adventurers of English investors and monarchs, too. Attitudes to America were crucial, and evolved positively and negatively as colonies grew in size, prosperity, and self-confidence.
Meanwhile, colonists were forced to rethink their beloved mother country. Alongside new ideas emerging from the American wilderness, they pondered England’s traditions and achievements, its problems and uncertain future in an age of war and revolution. They had exported legal and economic practices, preserved cultural habits, and defended their liberty as freeborn subjects. And yet their unique experiences, combined with increasing imperial ambition at home, meant that the harder they clung to Englishness the more a new identity emerged.
Using hundreds of letters, journals, reports, pamphlets, and contemporary books, Between Two Worlds recreates this fascinating transatlantic history – one that has often been neglected or misunderstood on both sides of the Atlantic.
“Malcolm Gaskill re-creates the Englishness of early America in a transatlantic history that is deeply researched yet vividly told. Through his epic stories of adventure we gain a new appreciation of the planters, saints and warriors who established the English roots of modern America – men and women who helped make a New World out of the culture and language of the Old.” (David Reynolds, author of America, Empire of Liberty)
Published by Oxford University Press, 20 November 2014
In the 1600s, over 350,000 intrepid English men, women, and children migrated to America, leaving behind their homeland for an uncertain future. Whether they settled in Jamestown, Salem, or Barbados, these migrants—entrepreneurs, soldiers, and pilgrims alike—faced one incontrovertible truth: England was a very, very long way away.
In Between Two Worlds, celebrated historian Malcolm Gaskill tells the sweeping story of the English experience in America during the first century of colonization. Following a large and varied cast of visionaries and heretics, merchants and warriors, and slaves and rebels, Gaskill brilliantly illuminates the often traumatic challenges the settlers faced. The first waves sought to recreate the English way of life, even to recover a society that was vanishing at home. But they were thwarted at every turn by the perils of a strange continent, unaided by monarchs who first ignored then exploited them. As these colonists strove to leave their mark on the New World, they were forced—by hardship and hunger, by illness and infighting, and by bloody and desperate battles with Indians—to innovate and adapt or perish.
As later generations acclimated to the wilderness, they recognized that they had evolved into something distinct: no longer just the English in America, they were perhaps not even English at all. These men and women were among the first white Americans, and certainly the most prolific. And as Gaskill shows, in learning to live in an unforgiving world, they had begun a long and fateful journey toward rebellion and, finally, independence.
“We don’t really know ourselves until we travel elsewhere. For those who thought they knew their American or British history, Malcolm Gaskill’s new book does just that. He takes two familiar histories that are often told separately, of England and colonial America, and shows how inseparable they actually were. Between Two Worlds is not just beautifully written and grippingly told – it is also arrestingly original.” (Andrew Preston, author of Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith: Religion in American War and Diplomacy)
Published by Basic Books, 11 November 2014
Crime and Mentalities in Early Modern England
Monograph in the ‘Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History’ series. Cambridge University Press, May 2000. Shortlisted for the Longman/History Today Book of the Year award, 2000-1. Paperback edition published, August 2002.
Hellish Nell: Last of Britain’s Witches
HarperCollins/Fourth Estate, London, April 2001. History of spiritualism, mediumship and psychical research in Britain c. 1850-1950, with partricular reference to the case of Helen Duncan, a medium prosecuted in 1944 under the 1735 Witchcraft Act. Paperback edition published, April 2002.
Witchfinders: a Seventeenth-Century English Tragedy
John Murray, London, April 2005. Monograph re-examining Matthew Hopkins and the East Anglian witch-hunt of 1645-7. Paperback edition published, April 2006.
Witchcraft: a Very Short Introduction.
Concise survey of the history of witchcraft and witch-trials for Oxford University Press. Published 2010.
The Matthew Hopkins Trials, edited volume of facsimile printed works, volume 3 in James Sharpe and Richard M. Golden (eds), Writings on English Witchcraft 1560-1736, 6 vols (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2003).
Journal Articles & Essays
‘Witchcraft and power in early modern England: the case of Margaret Moore’, in Jenny Kermode and Garthine Walker (eds), Women, Crime and the Courts in Early Modern England (London: UCL Press, 1994), pp. 125-45.
‘Witchcraft in early modern Kent: stereotypes and the background to accusations’, in Jonathan Barry, Marianne Hester and Gareth Roberts (eds), Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe: Studies in Culture and Belief(Cambridge: CUP, 1996), pp. 257-87.
‘The displacement of providence: policing and prosecution in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England’, Continuity & Change, 11 (1996), pp. 341-74.
‘Reporting murder: fiction in the archives in early modern England’,Social History, 23 (1998), pp. 1-30.
‘The devil in the shape of a man: witchcraft, conflict and belief in Jacobean England’, Historical Research, 71 (1998), pp. 142-71.
‘Witches and witchcraft prosecutions, 1560-1660’, in Michael Zell (ed.),Early Modern Kent 1540-1640 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2000), pp. 245-77.
‘Witches and witnesses in old and New England’, in Stuart Clark (ed.),Languages of Witchcraft: Narrative, Ideology and Meaning in Early Modern Culture (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2001), pp. 55-80.
‘Mentalities from crime: listening to witnesses in early modern England’, in Philippe Chassaigne et Jean-Paul Genet (eds), Droit et Societé en France et en Grande-Bretagne XIIE-XXE Siècles (Paris: Publications de la Sorbonne, 2003), pp. 91-101.
‘Witchcraft, emotion and imagination in the English civil war’, in John Newton (ed.), Witchcraft and the Act of 1604, forthcoming, Brill, Leiden, 2006.
‘Time’s arrows: context and anachronism in the history of mentalities’, forthcoming, Scientia Poetica, 9 (2006).
‘Fear made flesh: moral panics and witch-hunting in seventeenth-century England’, in David Lemmings (ed.), Moral Panics in Early Modern England, forthcoming hopefully Boydell, Woodbridge, 2007.
‘Witchcraft and evidence: the legal significance of the East Anglian witch-hunt of 1645- 7’, article in preparation for Past & Present.
‘The witch and the maid: politics, religion and magic in seventeenth-century England’, article in preparation for the Historical Journal.
‘”Crime, the law, and the state”: University of Essex/Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici, Naples, Comparative History Summer School, 6-10 July 1992’ (with Tim Meldrum), Social History, 18 (1993), pp. 87-92.
‘New directions in the history of crime and the law in early modern England’, in Louis A. Knafla (ed.), Crime, Gender and Sexuality in Criminal Prosecutions, Criminal Justice History, 17 (Westport, CT, 2002), pp. 147-169.
Magazine and Newspaper Articles
‘Britain’s last witch’, History Today, 51 (May 2001), pp. 6-7.
‘England’s witch-craze’, BBC History Magazine, 6 (May 2005), pp. 24-8.
‘Witchfinders’, Fortean Times, 198 (July 2005), pp. 30-6.
‘Remembering a Fraudulent Medium’, Catholic Herald, forthcoming, August 2006.
‘The devil in Essex: witch-hunting in old and New England’, Channel 4 ‘History Heads’ website, June 2002.
‘Witchfinder General (1968)’, historical film review, Channel 4 ‘History Heads’ website, December 2004.
‘Witchcraft’, in Arthur F. Kinney, David W. Swain and Eugene D. Hill (eds), Tudor England: An Encyclopaedia (Garland Publishing, 2000).
‘Helen Duncan’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004.
‘James VI and I’, ‘Dr John Lambe’, ‘John Lowes’, ‘Henry More’, Witch of Newbury’, ‘St Osyth witches’, in Richard Golden (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Witchcraft: the Western Tradition, 4 vols (ABC-CLIO, 2006).
‘Matthew Hopkins’, in Francis Bremer and Tom Webster (eds), The Encyclopaedia of Puritanism, 2 vols (ABC-CLIO, 2006).
‘Salem Witchcraft Trials’, ‘English Witchcraft Trials’, ‘Scottish Witchcraft Trials’, in Peter Cane and Joanne Conaghan (eds), The New Oxford Companion to Law, forthcoming, Oxford University Press, 2008.
Book Reviews in Academic Journals
Various for the Historical Journal, History, Journal of Modern History, English Historical Review, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Albion, Journal of British Studies, Social History, Continuity & Change, Criminal Justice History, International Association for the History of Crime and Criminal Justice Newsletter, London Journal, History & Computing.
Book Reviews in Magazines & Newspapers
J. A. Sharpe, Crime in Early Modern England, 1550-1750, 2nd edn (London, 1998), History Today, 2000.
James Sharpe, The Bewitching of Anne Gunter (London, 1999), History Today, 2000.
P. G. Maxwell-Stuart, An Abundance of Witches: the Great Scottish Witch-Hunt (Stroud, 2005), The Scotsman (27 August 2005).
Tim Harris, Revolution: the Great Crisis of the British Monarchy, 1685 – 1720 (London, 2006), and Edward Vallance, The Glorious Revolution: 1688 – Britain’s Fight for Liberty (London, 2006), The Independent, 24 February 2006.
Diane Purkiss, The English Civil War: a People’s History (London, 2006),Sunday Telegraph, 12 May 2006.
Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: a Voyage to War (London, 2006),Sunday Telegraph, 11 June 2006.
Patrick Dillon, The Last Revolution: 1688 and the Creation of the Modern World (London, 2006), Sunday Telegraph, 23 July 2006.