*Important edit–this problem has had a resolution. Please see my blog post from 4 November for details. Thank you everyone!
I had a fun blog post prepared about following a map where X marked the spot and finding a lost tomb. I’ll still post it, next week. Today, I’d like to talk about Margaret Murray again.
As you know, I wrote a biography of her. I’m extremely proud of it. I spent about 7 years total working on it, not counting all of the work that comes after the book is published. It was my doctoral dissertation and I spent 3 years revising it into a book. I traveled, I searched through archives, many times spending 2 weeks in an archive to find but 1 or 2 mentions of her. I dealt with the dearth of information–archival and published–about Murray. My book is the first book-length work on her since her own autobiography. While I did not cover some parts of her life, such as her trip to Finland and Russia to do a lecture series or detail her retirement years, I spend 239 pages discussing everything from her childhood, to her fieldwork in Egypt and Malta, to her work on diffusionism, her mummy unwrapping, and so much more. Needless to say, Murray is a fascinating individual with so many facets to her life and career. Naturally, people want to know about her. This is especially true of witchcraft scholars and enthusiasts, as well as people who identify their belief system as Wiccan.
I won’t write about her witchcraft work in depth here, because you can read my book, chapter 7. You can also read Caroline Oates and Juliette Wood’s A Coven of Scholars: Margaret Murray and Her Working Methods, if you can find a copy. It is an important booklet, that should have been a journal article or bound book, published by the Folklore Society in 1998. I got my copy from Caroline Oates when we met in London 5 years ago, so good luck getting yours. There are a few articles in Folklore that do discuss Murray’s witchcraft, but very few. Or, you can check out this article: “The Forgotten Egyptologist and First Wave Feminist Who Invented Wicca.”
In and of itself, the article is quite good. But, to be honest, it is good because most of the work was done by me. I saw the article, posted by a fellow Egyptologist on facebook. I read it, excited to learn more about Murray’s work. Maybe there was something in there that I could learn about her witchcraft studies. As I read, I realized that I wasn’t learning anything new. In fact, I was reading my own words, spit back at me, in an online article that was and is being enjoyed by thousands of people. Some of my own phrases, and most definitely my unique analysis of Murray’s life and career, were there for thousands to see. Usually, this makes me very happy. Murray is still little-known outside of a small group of historians and Egyptologists even though she is central to the discipline. I got to the end of the article and realized there were NO citations. Not one. I did a ctrl+F to search for my name, thinking I must have missed where I was mentioned in the article as Murray’s biographer and owner of many of the ideas therein. Nothing.
Mind you, this was all happening at the beginning of what would be the Kansas City Royals’ World Series winning game. But the first 8 1/2 innings were pretty dull, so I had some energy to devote to rectifying the situation. I tweeted at the author, Sarah Waldron (@Sarah__Waldron).
I received this response, and you can read the continuing conversation just below it:
Did I mention–there aren’t multiple academic essays about her? Oh, well, here:
I haven’t, as of 8:30am CST, gotten a response from her. I’d like to know about these other articles she found. Who wrote those? If there are multiple articles, why didn’t I find them in 7 years of searching? Sarah Waldron has some explaining, and documenting, to do.
I also emailed the Editors of the Broadly section of Vice.com. Their email is, according to the website: Broadly.Editor@Vice.com. I asked them to rectify the situation, simply by getting their author to give me credit for the stuff that I wrote (which was much of the biographical information and more). I haven’t heard from them yet.
Thousands of people are reading this article, and a vast majority of them don’t know the Margaret Murray I know, the one I wrote about. And many never will because Waldron did not cite anything. She has denied interested people the knowledge of more scholarship about Murray–something Murray herself would not like. I am simply asking for credit where credit is due. I will mention the dreaded “P” word here, once and once only: Plagiarism is not tolerated in my classroom and should not be tolerated by the editors, authors, or readers of Vice.