The Yorkshire Witch: The Life and Trial of Mary Bateman by Summer Strevens

‘When Mary Bateman was born, she was of so little importance that the date of her birth went unrecorded. When it came to her final moments on the gallows however, thousands of spectators witnessed her execution upon York’s ‘New Drop’ on the morning of Monday 20th March 1809, some of whom, packed shoulder to shoulder in the crowd, were convinced to the very end that the Yorkshire Witch would save herself from death at the last moment by employing her supernatural powers to vanish into thin air as the noose tightened. Needless to say, she didn’t.’

Mary Bateman was no witch! More a petty thief and fraudster with a sociopathic personality. She was intelligent and used her reading and writing abilities (a rare attribute for women of this era) for unsavoury financial gains.

This was an interesting account of crime in the early 1800’s, as rarely were women seen to be of criminal mind, often simply being deemed ‘mad’ and locked away in an asylum.

Mary was charming and manipulative and had an inventive imagination, often making up non-existent characters, used purely to back up her dodgy dealings, to improve her chances of getting more money out of her victims.

She was labelled a witch because of her wicked ways, having some knowledge of herbs and remedies and offered her own kind of ‘healthcare’ to many unfortunate women. Poisonings were her main go-to MO all in the name of lining her own pockets.

I enjoyed how Strevens’ put this book together, it read well as a nonfiction and had enough creativity to keep me reading. I particularly liked how the time period was described, this added to my reading experience in a positive way. The centre of the book has glossy photos which always gets bonus points from me in a nonfiction read!

As I was coming to the end, I really enjoyed how macabre this era was. I won’t give too much away, but the following picture shows how Mary ended up! As a museum exhibit, of all things, how shocking!

I’d recommend to British history enthusiasts, particularly folk who have lived in and around Leeds and York. A lot of settings would be familiar to folk who dwell in these parts!

The Yorkshire Witch gets 4 stars from me!

I’d like to say thank you to those lovely folk at Pen & Sword Publishers, in particular Rosie, who kindly sent me my copy in exchange for an honest review.

About the author

Born in London, Summer Strevens now lives and writes in Oxfordshire. Capitalising on a lifelong passion for historical research, as well as penning feature articles of regional historical interest, Summer’s published books include Haunted Yorkshire Dales, York Murder & Crime, The Birth of Chocolate City: Life in Georgian York, The A-Z of Curiosities of the Yorkshire Dales, Fashionably Fatal , Before They Were Fiction and The Yorkshire Witch: The Life and Trial of Mary Bateman.

Understanding and Treating Your Migraine by Paula Greenspan

Ironically, I started reading Understanding & Treating Your Migraine when I had a bit of a dull ache behind my right eye. I put it down to strenuously decorating my bathroom, looking up at the ceiling at a funny angle without my specs, and the two double vodka and diet cokes I had the night before.

Had I of already read this book, I would of been well aware that this was the beginning of a three day throb in my head that felt like an axe was chopping its way through my brain at twenty second intervals.

As some of you may or may not know, I’m at that age where I’m getting more and more aches, pains, strains, cracks and generally struggling to get up from kneeling down without bracing myself to do it.

My headaches over the last 3 or 4 years have been getting worse. I’ve tried to solve the problem, thinking perhaps it was down to my slightly unhealthy lifestyle, so I ditched the caffeine, red wine and chocolate for a while.

I’m pleased to say it made very little difference, apart from my waistline improved somewhat. I missed those three delights and was just a miserable, slightly slimmer version of me, so they are all back on the menu. As are the size 12-14’s.

Thinking it could be my eyesight, I spent a fortune at Boots opticians, ok, granted, I’ve always wanted Ray-Bans and decided to splash out, all in the name of stopping my aching head, but alas, the headaches still came. But at least I looked a bit cooler now, even if I was still in agony every few months.

The author, Paula Greenspan is a migraine sufferer herself. Along with input from many other poor souls who suffer buckets from these debilitating symptoms, I actually feel like I can start to improve the way in which I cope with them. After all, there is no cure, it’s just a case of educating myself and understanding those tell tale signs. This is all down to the reassurance, simple advice and knowing I’m not alone in my struggle after reading this book.

It also includes a whole host of experts giving sound advice on the subject, some things obvious, some not so much. It also has pointers about how to keep a Migraine diary and actually learn from it. There’s also a brilliant chapter covering Migraine and hormones and some very useful links to further help.

I’ve taken so much from this book, because, like many of us do, I’ve googled signs and symptoms and there’s so much out there, it’s hard to distinguish the sensible to the darn right ridiculous. (One person vowed that placing a blue clothes peg on her third eye was the ultimate cure. Failing that, anything a mid-dark blue colour would do. And no, I didn’t try it, I just took more ibuprofen and went back to bed!)

A surprisingly high proportion of people suffer from migraines and loose days due to not being able to function because of the intense pain and discomfort caused. Dizziness, feelings of detachment, cottonwool head and one of my regular favourites, the underfoot dropping jolt sensation.

I’m trying to make this as entertaining and funny as I can, but for those of us who get this horrible ailment I’d highly recommend getting this book! I cannot believe how much better it has made me feel.

Sometimes I thought I was having a stroke, the pain in my head was so severe, but after reading this, I’m far more positive about how I’m going to get through my next episode. I think that is due to the reassurance and knowing that other people experience similar symptoms, and I’m not loosing my head after all.

I’d like to say a big thank you to the author for writing this book, to Pen & Sword Publishers for sending me a copy to review, and also to the fellow sufferers who shared their experiences. I feel a whole lot better and not so alone now.