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New Medieval Books: Art of the Grimoire

Art of the Grimoire: An Illustrative History of Magic Books and Spells

By Owen Davies

Yale University Press
ISBN: 978-0-300-27201-7

A global history of magic, from ancient to modern. The focus of this book is often on the materials used to record magic, including scrolls, manuscripts and printed books.


To understand the history of written magic is to understand the influence of the major religions of the world, the development of early science, the cultural power of print, the growth of literacy, the social impact of colonialism, and the expansion of esoteric cultures across the oceans. The contents of magical texts represent much more than magic itself, and their little-studied artistic qualities reveal unique traditions of illustration, design, and imagination. This book takes a global view, stretching from the ancient Middle East to ancient China, and from colonial Africa to the post-colonial Americas.


Who is this book for?

Aimed at a general audience (and Halloween fans!), this book touches on a wide range of topics within the history of magic. For example, readers can find sections on bamboo slips from China, Dr. Faust, the Yokai of Japan, and depictions of magic in manga and anime. The 250+ pages have more illustrations and images than text, making it visually very interesting. Besides those interested in the history of magic, this book will appeal to those who study material culture, especially as it offers a chance to explore the different ways cultures around the world explore magic and the occult.

The author:

Owen Davies is a Professor of Social History at the University of Hertfordshire, where his research focuses on witchcraft, magic and ghosts. An authority on the topic, he has written many books in this field. You can learn more about Owen through his Wikipedia page or follow him on X/Twitter or Bluesky.


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