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The Time Traveller's Guide to…

The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England (original 2012; edition 2013)

by Ian Mortimer

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5981525,141 (3.9)19
Title:The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England
Authors:Ian Mortimer
Info:Vintage (2013), Paperback, 432 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer (2012)



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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)

I had been warned that this might not live up to expectations, but it very much did - a survey of social and cultural conditions during the reign of Elizabeth I, presented as a travelogue for the time-travelling tourist. Lots of excellent detail on economics, religion, food, clothes, illness and medicine, the arts, and pretty much everything. I see that there was also a TV series which gets much less good reviews, but I will try to get hold of it anyway. Disappointed that there are very few references to Ireland, which of course is my major point of interest. Some intriguing references to poisoning, which also interest me. ( )
  nwhyte | Aug 24, 2018 |
Not the immersive experience I'd been hoping for; you never really feel like you're there. The "Time Traveler" idea is a gimmick: basically Mortimer has just substituted present tense for past.

This book has masses of detail, much of it trivial, and with all its factoids would be a good resource for a school project, say, or a ready-reference for someone writing historical fiction. But as a history book, it lacks a narrative and misses the big picture. You might say that Mortimer knows the price of everything in Elizabethan England, but the value of nothing. ( )
1 vote yarb | Aug 16, 2018 |
I picked up The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England at my local library after listening to author Ian Mortimer's The Outcasts of Time. The latter book is fiction in which the protagonists travel forward in time in England, from the Middle Ages to the 1940s. This book, by contrast, takes the reader back in time and explores what everyday life was like in England in the period in the title (1558-1603).

Much as with a modern travel guide, Mortimer covers the landscape and people, religion, character, basic essentials, what to wear, traveling, where to stay, and what to eat and drink, as well as hygiende, illness, medicine, law and disorder, and entertainment. Chapters have many subheadings, which makes the book easier to read in smaller chunks. There are extensive end notes, a bibliography, and a thorough index. I do wish the book had some maps and illustrations, though.

Mortimer has written three books in this "Time Traveler's Guide" series, the other two addressing the Medieval period (14th century) and the Restoration era (late 17th century). I'd be interested in reading the other two. I can see historical fiction writers who want to set their stories in England in these periods using these books as sources for the details needed to create a realistic setting.

© Amanda Pape - 2018

[This book was borrowed from and returned to my local public library.] ( )
  riofriotex | Apr 21, 2018 |
Took too long to read. There was a lot more detail than I cared to read about in certain sections, but overall I liked it. ( )
  gossamerchild88 | Mar 30, 2018 |
Best for: Anyone wanting to learn more about the (interesting!) minutia and day-to-day bits of life during Queen Elizabeth I’s reign.

In a nutshell: Author Ian Mortimer has researched source documents, including personal journals and diaries, as well as other sources to provide details about what it really meant to live in Elizabethan England.

Worth quoting:
“A woman may travel, pray, write, and generally go about her affairs just as freely as a man — as long as she is not married.”
“But it is the mass production of books in English that prompts the shift to a more literary culture, not printing itself.”
“At Christmas the wealthy are expected to entertain the less fortunate members of society.”

Why I chose it: It seems my books choices this year are: I live in England now and want to learn; I don’t have a job and need to figure out what I’m doing with my life; and Other. This is the first one.

This book took me FOREVER to read, but that’s because the information is so interesting and densely packed. I only found myself skimming a few parts; the rest was just fascinating. I’ve always wondered about the daily life in past time periods; most of what I know comes from either a short bit in a world history text book, or from movies. This book was just what I wanted.

Mr. Mortimer covers pretty much everything I’d wanted to learn about - he talks about the people, the role religion plays, the ethics and morals of the people, essentials (including money, which I still don’t really get), clothing, traveling, housing, food, illness, crime, and entertainment. Wherever possible, he includes details from diaries or letters written by someone who lived during this time.

I found the food, illness, and clothing sections the most interesting, but generally skimmed the entertainment section mostly because I was getting anxious and just wanted to finish the book (I might go back and read it again later). If you’re into history, I think you’ll probably enjoy this one. ( )
  ASKelmore | Mar 19, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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Ian Mortimerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Grady, MikeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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But when memory embraces the night
I see those days, long since gone,
like the ancient light of extinguished stars
traveling still, and shining on.

from "Ghosts," Acumen 24 (1996), p. 17
This book is dedicated to my daughter,
Elizabeth Rose Mortimer
First words
It is a normal morning in London, on Friday 16 July 1591. In the wide street known as Cheapside the people are about their business, going between the timber-covered market stalls. Traders are calling out, hoping to attract the attention of merchants' wives.
The Landscape
Different societies see landscapes differently. You may look at Elizabethan England and see a predominantly green land, characterised by large open fields and woodlands, but an Elizabethan yeoman will describe his homeland to you in terms of cities, towns, ports, great houses, bridges and roads. In your eyes it may be a sparsely populated land–the average density being less than sixty people per square mile in 1561 (compared to well over a thousand today)–but a contemporary description will mention overcrowding and the problems of population expansion.¹ Describing a landscape is thus a matter of perspective: your priorities affect what you see.
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" ... this popular history explores daily life in Queen Elizabeth's England, taking us inside the homes and minds of ordinary citizens as well as luminaries of the period, including Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Sir Francis Drake. Organized as a travel guide for the time-hopping tourist, Mortimer relates in delightful (and occasionally disturbing) detail everything from the sounds and smells of sixteenth-century England to the complex and contradictory Elizabethan attitudes toward violence, class, sex, and religion. Original enough to interest those with previous knowledge of Elizabethan England and accessible enough to entertain those without, The Time Traveler's Guide is a book for Elizabethan enthusiasts and history buffs alike."--

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