SALEM — When author and attorney David Tamanini began researching the role that Tituba played at the start of Salem’s witchcraft hysteria in 1692, he quickly saw how her enslavement may well have helped ignite the shattering fervor.
On Thursday, September 8, 6:30–8:30 p.m., at The House of the Seven Gables, Tamanini will talk about his research into the first female to be accused of witchcraft in Salem. This event, which will include both an interview with Tamanini and a discussion with those in attendance, is free of charge. His presentation coincides with this year’s theme of racial equity. Tituba had been working as an enslaved cook in Barbados when Rev. Samuel Parris took ownership of her and brought her to Salem to live with and work for his family.
Tamanini used his research and expertise in law to write a fictional account titled, “Tituba: The Intentional Witch of Salem.” He portrays Tituba as someone coerced not just by slavery but by certain inevitabilities of slavery, beatings and heartache.
“I was most involved in researching what would motivate Tituba to call out others as witches,” said Tamanini. He decided to portray Tituba as someone for whom magic and witchcraft could be tools used to exact revenge.
Tituba, who may have learned witchcraft and Voodoo in Barbados, suffered displacement, loss and punishing enslavement. “Revenge was a motive that made sense,” Tamanini said of how the fictionalized story found its rationale.
“Tituba was a real living human being,” he said of the belittling way she has been portrayed throughout history including in the movie version of “The Crucible.” He objected to the way Tituba had been reduced to a one-dimensional character.
Tamanini’s discussion will take the shape of an interview, conducted by Zoe Quinn, director of visitor services and public programs. Afterward he’ll invite fellow authors in attendance to discuss the process of writing and publishing. He’d like to focus on his transition from practicing law to writing historical fiction. “I’d like to talk about some of the things that surprised me as I researched,” he said, “and I want to talk a bit about the exacting publishing process.” He lives in Pennsylvania and looks forward to his in-person discussion at The Gables. “I love Salem and the Boston area.”