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Distributed for Bodleian Library Publishing


Omens, Charms, Cures 1787

With an Introduction by John Simpson

Superstitions are surprisingly enduring. From dodging black cats to crossing one’s fingers while making a wish to an aversion to staff meetings on Friday the thirteenth, it is remarkable how many superstitions remain intact—even in this age of rationalism and swift scientific advancement.

First published in 1787 as part of the disparate collection A Provincial Glossary, with a Collection of Local Proverbs, and Popular Superstitions, Francis Grose’s Superstitions represents years of careful data collection and fieldwork and presents a full catalog of ways the supernatural might be expected to interfere in one’s life. Organized thematically into chapters like “Witches, Sorcerers, and Witchcraft,” “Things Lucky and Unlucky,” “Second Sight,” “Omens,” and “Superstitious Methods of Obtaining a Knowledge of Future Events,” Superstitions offers a systematic overview of the superstitious beliefs of the day as well as those held by earlier generations. Here, Grose’s work is reproduced under its original headings and supplemented by an informative introduction by Oxford English Dictionary editor John Simpson, setting the superstitions in proper historical and cultural context.
The resulting collection is a delightfully quirky guide to traditional sayings and beliefs, many archaic but some still surprisingly common today.

104 pages | 15 halftones | 3 1/2 x 4 1/2 | © 2011

Culture Studies

History: British and Irish History

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“A delightful glimpse into enduring English folklore and beliefs. Written in the latter part of the eighteenth century, the book delves into matters natural and supernatural to explain why ghosts never appear on Christmas Eve and the magical power hidden in ordinary toads. A charming and illuminating read that is surprising in its detail and satisfying in its scope.”

Deborah Harkness, author of A Discovery of Witches

Table of Contents

Introduction by John Simpson

A Ghost
A Witch
A Sorcerer, or Magician
The Second-Sight
Omens Portending Death
Charms and Ceremonies for Knowing Future Events
Superstitious Cures and Preventatives
Things Lucky and Unlucky
Miscellaneous Superstitions

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