The Real History Behind A Discovery of Witches

By Louisa Mellor

When Diana and Matthew magically time-walk to 1590s London, they cross paths with some famous real-life Elizabethans…

He may be Matthew Clairmont in the modern day, but in the 16th century, he’s real-life poet Mathew Roydon…

…a member of the School of Night, a group of thinkers that included playwright Christopher ‘Kit’ Marlowe, author of Dr Faustus.

In the show, Kit Marlowe is in unrequited love with Mathew. The real Marlowe never married and died tragically young in a tavern brawl.

Kit isn’t human, but a demon who mistrusts Diana because of the ancient rivalry between the magical species.

That rivalry is exploited by William Cecil, real advisor to Queen Elizabeth I, who employs vampire Mathew as a witch-hunting torturer and anti-Catholic spy.

Queen Elizabeth I calls Matthew her “shadow” and relies on him to protect her throne.

The Queen fears that England’s witches are turning against her in solidarity with their Scottish sisters, who are being hunted and killed.

For obvious reasons, Matthew isn’t popular with the London witches.

Yet he needs the witches’ help to teach Diana how to control her unpredictable magic and weave a spell to take them home.

It’s a dangerous time to be a witch. Diana is warned by real-life alchemist and poet Mary Sidney to stay hidden.

But where would be the fun in that?