The Fressingfield Witch is my marmite book for genealogists. It’s a good story (though I say so myself), but I’ve used some real historical figures and ordinary folk from the 1891 census. I’m not keen on pigeon-holing books so blended genres get my vote every time, but genealogy is largely based on weeding fact from guess work and the blurring of boundaries may be divisive.
There’s something compelling about giving a voice to unknown ancestors. Everyone has heard of Winston Churchill and Jane Austen, while long dead George Corbyn and Elijah Scoggins rest in eternal obscurity. Well, not any more. I would be interested to hear your opinions, though. Should ancestors be left to rest in literary peace, or is it reasonable to resurrect them at the risk of second-guessing their personalities?
For any genealogists out there with connections to Fressingfield in the 1890’s and Suffolk and Essex in the times of the Witch Trials, real surnames used in the book are below: