Bone-fires in Witch Week

Rowland, Jennifer A B jennifer.rowland at
Fri Jul 21 04:36:29 EDT 2000

I'd agree that dwj did this on purpose- a bonfire is a fun event, with
fireworks and toffee- a bone-fire is where they're burning someone alive.

-----Original Message-----
From: Neil Ward [mailto:neilward at]
Sent: 20 July 2000 21:04
To: dwj at
Subject: Re: Bone-fires in Witch Week

At 11:26 07/20/2000 EDT, you wrote:
>I'm quite new to the list, so forgive me if this has been discussed

...the change of "bone-fire" (yes, with a hyphen, and throughout the text)
to "bonfire." As far as we could figure out, "bone-fire" is an obsolete
spelling, not normal UK usage. 


Bone-Fire is an early, obsolete form of Bonfire, because bones used to be
the main component of the fires.  It's not, as some people think, because we
build 'good' roaring fires, fierce enough to sing off our eyebrows!

I'd put money on the fact that DWJ used this phrase deliberately to add the
vaguely mediaeval stamp of the witchcraft evident in the book.  If it was a
spelling mistake, it would be quite a coincidence, and the publisher would
probably have been obliged to sack all their proof-readers soon after. 

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