About the Author
Margaret Alice Murray was an eminent and respected Anthropologist, Archaeologist and Egyptologist. In the 1920’s she began writing about her theories on the origins and organization of witchcraft predating Christianity. At the time many of her colleagues ridiculed her work, yet today some of her books have gained classical status. These include: The Witch-Cult in Western Europe - published in 1921, The God of the Witches - published in 1933 and The Divine King in England – published 1954. Margaret Murray was born in Calcutta, India, on the 13th July 1863, and was the younger daughter of James Charles Murray and his wife, Margaret Carr. James, whose family had been in India for several generations, was by then the managing partner of a firm of Manchester merchants, while his wife came from a religious Northumbrian family and initially had gone to India as a missionary and social worker, working to better the circumstances of Indian women. Margaret spent much of her early life flitting between India and England, with a brief period 1873–5 spent in Bonn, Germany. She was educated mainly by her mother in India, but when visiting family in England she would often stay with her uncle John Murray, the Vicar of Lambourn in Berkshire, and later the Rector of Rugby, who helped to flesh out her education. Indeed it was from him she acquired an interest in ancient history and monuments. However, back in India her first career choice was in nursing. In 1883, she trained for three months—the most her father would permit—at the Calcutta General Hospital as the first ‘lady probationer’ in India, and acted briefly as ‘sister-in-charge’ during an epidemic. On her return to England in 1886, she was forced to give up her hopes of a nursing career due to her stature, being a mere 4 feet 10 inches tall, she was considered too small to qualify. She next tried a career in social work, first in Rugby and then in Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire, where her parents finally settled in 1887 after their return from India. It was not until January 1894 that Margaret entered University College London and started on the career for which she is best known. However, because it was difficult in those days for a woman to receive advanced degree’s in specialist subjects such as Archaeology, her main choice of study, she had to approach it in a roundabout way and take a degree in Linguistics instead.
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