Witch-finder General by Ronald Bassett


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Herbert Jenkins, 1966. First edition, first impression. Signed and inscribed by author. Includes two short newspaper cuttings of relatable interest. Some internal foxing on title page, text clean and unmarked, page edges darkened. Jacket corners bumped and rubbed, minor wear to rear caused by the depression in the boards.

Ronald Bassett's fictionalised depiction of Matthew Hopkins, a notorious and brutal 17th-century witch-hunter. The book served as the basis for Michael Reeves's successful 1968 cult-classic of the same name, staring Vincent Price. Bassett also wrote the screenplay with Tom Baker. 

'While bitter battles rage between King and Parliament, local magistrates have more power and less accountability than ever before. Taking advantage of the tense atmosphere and lax prosecution procedures, Matthew Hopkins, an insignificant lawyer and self-appointed Witchfinder General, travels across East Anglia accusing the aged, the confused, and the poor of satanic crimes against their neighbours. With every innocent death, his purse grows heavier, as he satisfies his lust for power.
But his dealings with one particular young woman make him a powerful enemy in the form of Ralph Margery; a captain in Cromwell’s army who is determined to put a stop to Hopkins’ reign of terror. But Hopkins had already tasted blood, gained respect and lined his pockets. He was hungry for more.'

In 2005, the magazine Total Film named Witchfinder General the 15th-greatest horror film of all time. It is also known as one third the genre-defining 'Unholy Trinity' of Folk Horror cinema, along with Piers Haggard’s Blood On Satan's Claw and Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man.