[Snip] As Ronald Hutton has noted, the tradition of pagan witchcraft known as Wicca is the only religion that England has ever given to the world – and Gerald Brosseau Gardner (1884-1964) was its prophet. Various aspects of Gardner’s life and work, and of the religion that he founded, have been hashed through by a succession of previous writers. Until now, however, only one dedicated biography of Gardner has existed, this being his authorised biography, Gerald Gardner: Witch (1960). Philip Heselton’s new magnum opus, Witchfather, fills a gap in the market by providing a properly researched two-volume study of Gardner’s eventful life.
Gardner is not the easiest subject for a biographer, not least because his own attitude towards the truth seems to have been at times less than full and frank, but Heselton’s book is an interesting and welcome new contribution to the understanding of his subject’s life. Heselton is not a professional academic or writer, and he sometimes gives his imagination a rather free rein. However, he has completed a very impressive quantity of background research on Gardner’s life and career – more than any other previous researcher – and his book will be of great interest to both popular and scholarly audiences.