Samuel Sewall, the only judge to publicly repent his decision to condemn twenty people to death as witches in 1692, is the subject of Eve LaPlante’s new biography, Salem Witch Judge: The Life and Repentance of Samuel Sewall (HarperOne, 2007). LaPlante counts Sewall as her sixth great-grandfather, a family connection that gave her access to rare documents not previously available. Using these papers, as well as Sewall’s extensive personal diaries and letters, she vividly recreates Sewall’s life and times. LaPlante is the author of two previous books, Seized (a multidisciplinary exploration of temporal lobe epilepsy) and American Jezebel (a biography of Anne Hutchinson), and essays for The Atlantic, the New York Times, Ladies’ Home Journal, Gourmet, and Boston.
This talk was part of the Portland Public Library’s Brown Bag Lecture Series. We welcome your feedback on this Eve LaPlante reading.