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

by Ian Mortimer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Time Traveller's Guide (2)

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1,0532919,502 (3.91)39
" ... 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."--… (more)
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English (28)  Swedish (1)  All languages (29)
Showing 1-5 of 28 (next | show all)
3.5 stars

This book takes the reader back in time to Elizabethan England, the time during which Elizabeth I reigned, from 1558 to 1603. The author describes society in general so the reader/time traveller knows what to expect/how to behave.

These are interesting, but this one didn’t have the same appeal as the first in the series, Medieval England. Not sure if that was because I’ve read more set during Elizabethan times, so there wasn’t as much new to me (but plenty still was), or if it’s because I was often reading while distracted; I expect it’s more the latter. ( )
  LibraryCin | Dec 29, 2023 |
I love the idea of writing time traveller’s guides to the past. The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century was brilliant, and I am glad that Ian Mortimer kept writing. Yes, please, let’s not think about history as facts, facts, facts and numbers, numbers, numbers, but as something real people lived through, as history was their “here and now”. It’s fascinating how well this book succeeds in transporting the reader to Elizabethan England.

I liked the description of people becoming more aware of their place in history and the growing interest in recording things that might otherwise be lost.

There were so many things to learn, to wonder at, and to revisit. I think my only complaint is that the book was too short – I wanted more of everything, more details, more geekiness. (The trouble with reading non-fiction as e-books it that I always forget about the space needed for the footnotes, and then I suddenly find myself finishing the book… What, already? Noooo…)

Here are just a few of the things that stayed with me (I took A LOT of notes ;)):

- Isabella Whitney published the first volume of verse by an Englishwoman. She was a servant who taught herself to write, and this is awesome. Then there was Emilia Lanier, who argued passionately against women’s supposed inferiority. Why wasn’t this in my schoolbooks? (That was a rhetorical question.)
- I knew about the persecution of Catholics and Protestants, but I had no idea of the growing scope and brutality.
- The book also debunks the myth that the English did not travel much before the Industrial Revolution.
- Another myth: everyone and everything stank and nobody cared. It was a question of class more than anything else.
- Character witnesses at ecclesiastical courts probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but it is appalling. Basically, if you are accused of adultery and can produce the required number of people who will swear that you have great morals, you will be found innocent. If your lover can’t do the same, they will be found guilty. Ouch.
- It’s ok to be a witch! Really. Unless you summon evil spirits and kill someone by magic, that is – that's against the law.
- I loved the author’s asides. Here, he is citing from a dialogue book - ladies and gentlemen go fishing together, and one lady gets a fish: “To which the second gentleman, who is as much of a creep as the first, replies ‘O fish, thou hast had a happy destiny to be taken by so worthy a fisher. Thou couldst never have had a better end.’ “ : )))

I am sure I’ll be happily reading and rereading the whole series, these books are a delight. ( )
  Alexandra_book_life | Dec 15, 2023 |
*3.5*

This book could have been something... much more intriguing than what it was. Despite its chapters and chapters on English Renaissance mores and social history that I invariably flock to, Mortimer's book feels simply dry more often than not. It felt as if much of the book diverted into rote history—too many lists and "evidence" without much expounding of why they were there to begin with. I did enjoy the second person point of view, and the "Time Traveler's Guide" aspect was fresh and could have been more exciting if that dedication to guide went less into the rote historical aspects as I noted earlier and more into the rare scenes as if you were really there. These shifts are a bit incongruous and I grew bored on certain chapters to the point of skimming.

One aspect I found early in the book was Mortimer's obvious distaste of religiosity. It struck me as terribly disingenuous for an author on a time period ruled by religion to dismiss it so obviously—there's very little nuance in this book that supposedly wishes to get into the mind of Elizabethan's so as to inform us on our "trip". I think this quote summarizes the author's thesis fairly cleary (and something I won't spend my time on as to why I found it so wrong):
"Today we commonly take for granted that there is a fundamental conflict between scientific knowledge and religious beliefs" (102)

I didn't hate all of it though, in fact, I loved the chapters the people, basic essentials, what to wear, what to eat and drink, and especially on hygiene, illness, and medicine. Those were page-turners, especially in the depiction of a plague-ridden man digging his own grave and forcing his nephew to watch as he lay down and died in it, oh man. The chapters on the landscape and on where to stay though were quite the opposite, and almost made me give up a few times.

Maybe I just don't like 16th-century English history though, and it's all on me. It's a decent book, but I just know I won't be reading this again nor necessarily recommending it (and maybe staying away from this time period for a bit). ( )
  Eavans | Feb 17, 2023 |
This non-fiction work, much like it’s medieval counterpart, was super-informative and a great look back at the late 1500’s during Elizabeth I’s rule in England. There are so many details of life back then that were absolutely fascinating to read about. I loved the details the author presented on the people, religion, what a typical town looked like, what sort of social rules you should expect to follow for the times, what period dress was like, etc. Everything was so incredibly well-researched and a truly fascinating read.

Please excuse typos/name misspellings. Entered on screen reader.
( )
  KatKinney | Mar 3, 2022 |
It's been 11 years since I read and enjoyed The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer. At the time I found it illuminating, fascinating, shocking and at times even funny, and I'm surprised it's taken me so long to pick up another in the series.

That's the way of readers though isn't it? There's so many back catalogue books to catch up on, that before you know it, a decade has passed before you pick up another one.

Nevertheless, The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer was another five star reading experience and met all my hopes and expectations. It took me two months to get through the 18 hour audiobook, but the narration was terrific and it's easy to listen to non fiction like this in short bursts.

Once again, the author takes the reader's hand and shows them around Elizabethan England, pointing out the different places to stay, what you might earn, what to wear, and what to eat.

I loved the general etiquette rules from Chapter 19. Mortimer draws on several references, but the following rules were from The Boke of Nurture, or Schoole of Good Maners; For Men, Servants, and Children by Hugh Rhodes published in 1577.

On manners and politeness:
Don't tell secrets to strangers
Don't correct the faults in others that you commit yourself
Rebuke men only when alone with them
Don't boast
Don't laugh at your own jokes

At table:
Don't belch in another man's face
Keep your knife bright
Don't spit across the table
Don't blow crumbs or spit on the floor near you
Don't throw bones under the table

I just loved these! It's fascinating to learn that in 450 years, some things have changed while others are timeless. The combination of content and the narrator Mike Grady's delivery of the rules was very entertaining, and I just stepped away from this review to listen to them all again for sheer pleasure. I'll leave you with one more quote:

"It is customary to take your hat off when someone urinates or defecates in your company." Chapter 19

According to the author, 'noisome smells and noxious fumes are common in Elizabethan England' and the section on sanitation in Chapter 34 was engrossing (pun intended) and amusing.

The introduction of tobacco, smoking and pipes was mentioned, and this observation from the time made me laugh:

"Smoking makes your breath stink like the piss of a fox." Chapter 40

Finishing The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England means I'm now halfway through this non fiction series, and still have the following books to look forward to:
The Time Traveller's Guide to Restoration Britain
The Time Traveller's Guide to Regency Britain

These two eras don't interest me as much as Elizabethan England and Medieval England did, but I'm sure they'll be informative and entertaining reads just the same. I've just added them to my TBR, but how long will it be until I get to one of them? ( )
  Carpe_Librum | Feb 24, 2022 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ian Mortimerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Grady, MikeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
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
Dedication
This book is dedicated to my daughter,
Elizabeth Rose Mortimer
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Introduction
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.
I
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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