Tabitha Stanmore Cunning Folk

Friday, May 24 from 7:00pm to 8:00pm

Join us for a book talk with Tabitha Stanmore, who will speak about her new book, Cunning Folk.

Join us for a book talk with Tabitha Stanmore, who will speak about her new book, Cunning Folk: Life in the Era of Practical Magic. This in-person event will be free and open to the public. We recommend arriving early for the best seating.

About the Book: A vibrant look at an unsettled and strangely familiar time that overturns our assumptions about the history of magic.

Imagine: it’s the year 1600, and you can’t find your keys. You’ve scoured your house. What do you do? In medieval and early modern Europe, the first port of call might very well have been cunning folk: practitioners of “service magic.” When we think of magic in the pre-modern world, our minds often jump to the witch trials that persecuted thousands. But in fact, magic was still a ubiquitous presence. In this time when the supernatural was surprisingly mundane, cunning folk were a widely acknowledged and essential feature of everyday life. For people across ages, genders, and social standing, practical magic was a cherished resource with which to navigate life’s many challenges, from recovering stolen linens to seizing the throne, and everything in between. In historian Tabitha Stanmore’s beguiling account, we meet lovelorn widows and dissolute nobles, selfless healers and renegade monks. We listen in on Queen Elizabeth I’s astrology readings and track treasure hunters trying to unearth buried gold without upsetting the fairies that guard it. Much like us, premodern people lived in bewildering times, buffeted by forces beyond their control. Their anxieties are instantly recognizable, and as Stanmore reveals, their faith in magic has much to teach us about making space for enchantment and the irrational in our allegedly enlightened lives today.

Charming in every sense of the word, Cunning Folk is an immersive reconstruction of a bygone world, and a thought-provoking commentary on the beauty and bafflement of being human.

About the Author: Tabitha Stanmore, PhD, is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Exeter, UK, and a specialist in medieval and early modern magic. She has been interviewed on BBC Radio and TV. Her monograph, Love Spells and Lost Treasure, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2022. Cunning Folk is her first book for general readers.

Cunning Folk will officially be released on May 28. Event attendees will have a special opportunity to purchase the book as an early release during the event only on May 24. To pre-order the book, please see below for the New Dominion Bookshop book order form or call the shop at 434-295-2552.

"This is a brilliant book, written with wit and vigor. Tabitha Stanmore explores the pre-modern places where magic was real, offering not only practical solutions to ordinary problems but a way of feeling about the world, an emotional relationship between cosmic forces, anxious humans, and the mundane mysteries of their lives."

—Malcolm Gaskill

New Dominion Bookshop Book Order Form

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Tabitha Stanmore Photo Credit: Richard Wallace