|Author:||Fritz Leiber, Jr.|
|Publisher:||Street & Smith Publications|
|1st printing:||April, 1943|
Conjure Wife is a supernatural horror novel by Fritz Leiber. It was first published in April, 1943 by Street & Smith Publications for Unknown Worlds. An "expanded and revised" version was published by Twayne Publishers in its Witches Three anthology in 1952, then issued as a stand-alone novel in 1953. The latter version has been reprinted many times, in both hardcover and paperback editions, by a variety of publishers, including Ace Books, Tom Doherty Associates, Penguin Books, and Award Publications.
The book's premise is that witchcraft flourishes as an open secret among women. The story is told from the point of view of a small-town college professor who discovers that his wife is a witch.
To date, Conjure Wife has been adapted into three film projects and one television episode. It was first presented as a feature film in 1944 called Weird Woman by director Reginald Le Borg and starred Lon Chaney, Jr., Evelyn Ankers and Anne Gwynne. It was remade in 1962 by Sidney Hayers under the title Burn, Witch, Burn! and it was made again as a horror spoof in 1980 by Richard Shorr and Herbert L. Strock under the title Witches' Brew. It was also featured in the "Weird Woman" episode of Son of Svengoolie in 1980.
Tansy Saylor is the wife of an up-and-coming young sociology professor at a small, conservative American college. She is also a witch. Her husband, Norman, discovers this one day while rummaging through her dressing table: he finds vials of graveyard dirt, packets of hair and fingernail clippings from their acquaintances, and other evidence of her witchcraft. He confronts Tansy, and manages to convince her that her faith in magic is a result of superstition and neurosis. Tansy burns her charms; and Norman's luck immediately goes sour. He realizes that he had been protected, up til now, by Tansy's charms, and that as a result of his meddling, they are both now powerless to counteract the spells and charms of the other witches all around them.