What better way to celebrate the up-coming All Hallow’s Eve than with a guide to some of our favourite witches in literature – from the conjuring of Shakespeare’s Weird Sisters to the blue spit of Roald Dahl’s Grand High Witch of the World.
“A fire, a fire is burning! I hear the boot of Lucifer, I see his filthy face!”
The Crucible, Arthur Miller
Name: Abigail Williams
Found in: The 1692-1693 Salem witchcraft trials portrayed in Arthur Miller’s 1953 play The Crucible.
Key features: Leading the local girls in love spell rituals, and accusing fellow villagers.
Most likely to be found: In the Salem forest.
Cackle rating: 2/10
“A real witch always wears a wig to hide her baldness. She wears a first class wig. And it is almost impossible to tell a first-class wig from ordinary hair unless you give it a pull to see if it comes off.”
The Witches, Roald Dahl
Name: The Grand High Witch of the World
Found in: Roald Dahl’s 1983 tale, The Witches.
Key features: Square toes, a bald head and blue spit.
Most likely to be found: Grand Hotel, Bournemouth.
Cackle rating: 9/10
“Fair is foul and foul is fair. Hover through the fog and filthy air.”
Macbeth, William Shakespeare.
Name: The Weird Sisters
Found in: Seventeenth century Scotland, portrayed in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
Key features: Speaking in rhyme, foretelling fates.
Most likely to be found: Around a cauldron.
Cackle rating: 10/10
“Despite her efforts to be helpful and well-behaved, Mildred had an uncanny knack of appearing to be the cause of any trouble which was occurring, and it must be admitted there were occasions (particularly when her rather wild imagination ran away with her) when she managed to turn some peaceful event into a scene of total chaos.”
A Bad Spell for the Worst Witch, Jill Murphy.
Name: Mildred Hubble
Found in: Cackle’s Academy, the school that Mildred attends in The Worst Witch series.
Key features: Long pigtails, a tabby cat, leaves a trail of destruction in her wake.
Most likely to be found: Causing mischief with Maud Spellbody and Enid Nightshade, and avoiding the gaze of Miss Hardbroom.
Cackle rating: 4/10
She put in lizards, newts, 2 green frogs.
Lizards and newts
3 loud hoots
Green frogs legs
3 big eggs
And she made her spell.
Meg’s Eggs, Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski.
Found in: The kitchen having tea her faithful pet cat Mog and Owl in the Meg and Mog books.
Key features: Pointy hat, clumsy nature, striped cat.
Most likely to be found: Trying to fix the repercussions of a disastrous spell.
Cackle rating: 3/10.
“She walked quickly through the darkness with the frank stride of someone who was at least certain that the forest, on this damp and windy night, contained strange and terrible things and she was it.”
Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett.
Name: The Wyrd Sisters aka Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick
Found in: Terry Prachett’s Discworld.
Key features: Headology, magic, broomstick flying and in the case of Nanny Ogg, owning the most evil cat in the world.
Most likely to be found: In the town of Lancre in the Ramptop Mountains, 500 miles hubwards of the city of Ankh-Morpork
Cackle rating: 1/10 – being a sign of ‘going to the bad’
“Now the Wicked Witch of the West had but one eye, yet that was as powerful as a telescope, and could see everywhere. So, as she sat in the door of her castle, she happened to look around and saw Dorothy lying asleep, with her friends all about her. They were a long distance off, but the Wicked Witch was angry to find them in her country; so she blew upon a silver whistle that hung around her neck.”
The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum.
Name: The Wicked Witch of the West
Found in: Ruling over the Winkie Country in the magical Land of Oz portrayed in The Wizard of Oz.
Key features: Fear of water and always in the company of her tribe of winged monkeys.
Mostly likely to be found: Plotting to steal the silver shoes which Dorothy inherits following the demise of the Wicked Witch of the East.
Cackle Rating: 7/10.