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The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England
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The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  940 ratings  ·  172 reviews
From the author of one of the biggest-selling history books of recent years, the follow-up to The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England. The past is a foreign country -- this is your guide.

We think of Queen Elizabeth I as 'Gloriana': the most powerful English woman in history. We think of her reign (1558-1603) as a golden age of maritime heroes, like Sir Walter Raleig...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published April 2nd 2012 by Bodley Head (first published July 2nd 2010)
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We all know why Elizabethan England fascinates us and Ian Mortimer is a wonderful guide. His sense of humor and level of detail bridges any gaps in understanding why Elizabethan England may not be a place we would want to live. Mortimer expects us to have pre-conceived notions and questions that develop as we read. We may, for instance, ascribe to the notion that Elizabethan England was a period of the flowering of art and language, and it was…to a point. By carefully going through all the conti...more
Pete daPixie
If there is one modern historian whose works I am immediately drawn to, then it is Ian Mortimer. I can strongly recommend his earlier publications 'The Greatest Traitor-The life of Sir Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March, Ruler of England 1327-1330', 'The Perfect King:The Life of Edward III, Father of the English Nation', 'The Fears of Henry IV: the Life of England's Self-Made King' and '1415: Henry V's Year of Glory'.
There appears to be a plethora of historical time travelling books appearing, su...more
Paul Cheney
To borrow the phrase from the famous advert, this does what is says on the cover. Mortimer whisks you back in time to Elizabethan England and takes you on a journey throughout that period, from the highest court in the lands to the grime and filth of the London metropolis.

He starts with the landscape of the time, different in many ways to today, but also familiar as landmarks that we see now are recent additions to the places that he visits. Then onto the people. The class system rules; the aris...more
History lovers always debate which authors truly allow readers to “live” history (as much as one can from a modern soda). Most will agree that Ian Mortimer is a force to be reckoned with in this genre. Riding on the successful format of “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England”; Mortimer presents, “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England”.

“The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England” follows the form of “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England” of addressing the reader...more
I found this book to be an excellent companion to the authors “The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century.” Dr. Mortimer uses the same style, a traveler’s guide book, to tell the reader what life was like in Queen Elizabeth’s England of the mid-16th century. The Author divides the book into twelve sections and tells the story of how life was lived from the lowest of the low to Elizabeth herself. Having said that, much of the book is focused...more
Written in a manner similar to a travel guide (think an historical Lonely Planet), this book is a very interesting read.

If you are interested in the minutiae of the period, rather than the sweeping acts of history we are all familiar with, such as the Spanish Armada and the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, then this is an incredibly fascinating book.

I highly recommend it to anyone even remotely interested in the Elizabethan period. It will challenge what you think you know about the time perio...more
Jennifer Simmonds
Not everyone can be interested in all aspects of Elizabethan life (not the casual reader anyway). Mortimer obviously is, and covers all topics, from chopping off hands to Shakespeare's sonnets, in detail. Detail is often a very good thing, and some little fascinating nuggets of information are what make this book enjoyable. However, there are some instances where we find out (in seemingly endless lists) exactly what Mr. and Mrs Elizabethan had in their house at the time of their deaths, or exact...more
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
Perhaps not quite as good as Mortimer's guide to 14th-century England, but still an interesting and enjoyable read.
L.K. Jay
I really enjoyed Ian Mortimer's previous book The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century and this was a welcome sequel. We all know who Queen Elizabeth was, Shakespeare and Sir Walter Raleigh but this goes much deeper into ordinary life. Such as, what would someone have had for dinner, what underwear would they have worn and how much would they have earned? It's these little details that make history so interesting and there are lots of them...more
A Goodreads Giveaway Book

Ian Mortimer's book is perfect for students and adults alike being introduced to Elizabethan England for the first time. As he takes us through the daily ins and outs of peasants, journeymen, and courtiers,we get a taste of what it might have been like to walk on the streets of England under Elizabeth's reign.

Great non-fiction for those interested in Early Modern England!
It isn’t too often that I end up reviewing nonfiction anymore. But sometimes a book comes along with such a sufficiently interesting concept that I can’t help but take a bit of a break from the norm and give it a go.

Mortimer takes a look at Elizabethan England through the amusing concept of a travel guide for time travelers, and believe me, it works.The very first chapter starts out like you’re sightseeing in some of the more well-known cities and towns. Walk down this street. On your left, you’...more
Historian Ian Mortimer (The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England) escorts the Anglophile on a tour of his native country five centuries ago when 3 shillings afforded a visitor to the Tower of London a peek at its dungeons. This informative guide offers advice that ranges from fashion trends (ruffs and ruffles rule), diet tips (avoid tomatoes ) and how much to drink (guys, a gallon of beer per day) to why bathing is unhealthy and how many arrows to keep on hand (four). Has much changed? Back...more
Aug 22, 2013 Julia rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Shakespearean devotees, living history reenact ors
What a novel concept! A Fodor's guide for those of us ready to take the plunge and be among the first to time travel! This book's fun premise is just a mask for some seriously well-researched historical information, told in a very easy-to-digest, light-hearted manner. I found much of it surprising, some of it depressing (society's treatment of the poor and ill), and all of it fascinating. Mortimer leaves no area of Elizabethan society undercover, so to speak, so be warned that this is a book bes...more
I first read Ian Mortimer's 'time travellers guide to medieval England' and I was in love. Here was a historian who could transport his readers actually into the past. When I heard he had released another based on Elizabethan England it was a no brainier for me to get my hands on it (thanks to the boyfriend for buying me it!). As much as I love detailed, academic texts Mortimer has made history interesting for more than just students and graduates of history. His prose is easy to follow and his...more
An excellent companion to the authors previous title A Time Travellers Guide to the Middle Ages. A wide ranging insight into the life of the man and woman of the period from the rich man in his castle to the poor man at his gate. Styled not as a traditional historical nartive but as a series of eassys grouped under themes. Here we cover subjects such as hygenie, entertainment and clothing. In which the reader is given a glimpse into the hopes, fears, sights and smells of the subjects of the virg...more
Shawn Thrasher
Apr 23, 2014 Shawn Thrasher rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shawn by: Thomas Vose
Overall, a strong, good piece of (pop) history framed as a travel guide, which in an interesting conceit. There were a couple of dragging sections (mostly when facts were listed) but those sections were few and far between. The Elizbethans were a fascinating bunch, but Mortimer made sure in his envoi at the end to remind us that "they are us;" that they "are not some distant, alien race but our families." I'd never thought about people in the past quite like that before. Interesting, fascinating...more
I really enjoyed reading this book. It answered the questions you wanted answering! Some bits, especially on punishment, are a bit gory, but still need to be told. Some bits also didn't interest me, but I didn't feel guilty skipping them. Overall very interesting and well recommended.
Elizabeth Ashworth
Entertaining, informative and a gem for my research library.
If you have ANY interest in English history, read this book! Mortimer pretends he's literally writing a travel guide, so tells you what to wear (and what various clothing style will communicate about you), what to eat, describes inns and roads...just as if you were planning a trip to Elizabethan England. I would have loved to have some pictures, especially of clothes, since I had trouble wrapping my head around the British English vs. American English descriptions, but this was just a wonderful...more
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Mortimer's Time Traveler"s Guide to Medieval England, I could hardly wait to get my hands on this book. In light of all the anticipation, I have to say that I was mildly disappointed. Although he makes an honest effort to portray the 16th Century from the points of view of all levels of society, the rich and famous still get the bulk of the attention. In my view, this is like seeing military history only through the eyes of the Generals. He also spends an inord...more
Robbie Leslie
I read the 'Time Traveller's Guide to Medieaval England' prior to this. My enjoyment of 'TTG to ME' prompted me to buy this.
Mmmmm, I enjoyed this and found it informative and interesting. But it lacks the 'snap' and 'verve' of Mortimer's previous time-travelling guide. I felt that it would have benefited from a more ruthless editor - the chapters on Elizabethan dress/clothing are really rather long and become tedious. Especially as they rely on limited
Mr Mortimer's coverage of the reli...more
This proved an informal and informative guide to life in Elizabethan England addressing the reader as if they were a traveller in time. It's an approach that I found very appealing as it allowed for comparisons between then and now.

This was my first encounter with Mortimer's non-fiction and didn't realise until the author's interview on CD16 that he also writes historical fiction under the name of James Forrester (a couple of these are on my to be read mountain).

The only issue I had was that wit...more
One thing I really liked about this book was the ways in which it challenged traditional views of life in Elizabethan England. Ian Mortimer has a dry wit, and if the book sometimes takes a seemingly scattershot approach to the subject, it's all interesting. Lots of grist here for a writer's mill.
If only history books were as engaging and full of fascinating insights. Organized by topics--religion, foods, law and government, entertainment, etc--rather than chronologically, Mortimer paints a vivid picture of life in the 16th century. He focuses on what people were thinking and why, how they lived, rather than a list of events. Never dry or dull.

I picked the book up from the hot titles shelf in the library, planning to give it a chapter or two and ended up reading it straight through. I'll...more
Dammit man! Stop writing books that I want to read! This book is excellent and filled with information. Although I find the medieval period more interesting, what with all the doom and gloom, the Elizabethan period is packed with transformation, less with transformation through death, war, and plague, although that is still a key component, the overarching changes are coming through exploration, literature, medicine, religion, and fairly peaceful era on top of all that.

Anyway, tired. More later...more
John Nebauer
Elizabethan England is presented as a golden age. It was the period of Shakespeare, the Armada and the voyages of Drake, Frobisher and Raleigh. The music of William Byrd and John Dowland graced court and church. And at the apex, 'Good Queen Bess', defender of English freedoms.

Hindsight of course it a wonderful thing and Ian Mortimer tried to show us what it was like to live there. Would we, living at that time, view it through such rosy-hued glass?

The first chapter teases out the changes in land...more
What is great about this book is that it touches on many aspects of daily life in Elizabethan England for people of both genders and all economic strata. It covers things like architecture, food, fashion, medicine, crime and punishment.

This is also its weakness-- because it reaches so broadly, it does not reach very deeply into some matters.

Its other problem, at least with the ebook version, is that it lacks illustrations. The chapters on fashion and architecture especially would have benefite...more
Ian Mortimer is one of my favourite historical authors. This book and his previous "The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England" are unique and transport the reader to an actual time in history, rather than just recalling a time period and its events. The book addresses the reader as an actual traveller and describes places, sights and smells. Ian Mortimer divides different themes into chapters such as what you would eat, wear and do for entertainment. Elizabethan England is often romanticise...more
The past is like visiting a foreign country and what better thing to have than a guide? That is the premise behind author Ian Mortimer’s latest book. If you magically were transposed to say 1585 London, how would you wash your clothes? How much would food cost? What is the most common food to eat? Could you afford a horse? What type of medicine would be available if you got sick? How would you wash your hair? These are the type of questions that anybody interested in history loves to know. Nothi...more
Carole Roman
Terrific and comprehensive book describing every aspect of life in Elizabethan England. Ian Mortimer leaves no stone unturned, discussing every aspect of life, from one's diet, to transportation, clothing, jobs- you name it. Jam packed with interesting information, the reader takes away the sights and smells of living in the 16th century. Each chapter is filled with little gems, nuggets to keep the reader interested and compelled to learn more. I came out of this book learning that the Elizabeth...more
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  • The Rise of the Tudors: The Family That Changed English History
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  • A Great and Terrible King: Edward I and the Forging of Britain
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AKA James Forrester.

Dr Ian Mortimer was born in Petts Wood (Kent) in 1967. He won a scholarship to Eastbourne College (Sussex) and later read for degrees in history and archive studies at the universities of Exeter and London (UCL). From 1991 to 2003 he worked for a succession of archive and historical research organisations, including Devon Record Office, the Royal Commission on Historical Manusc...more
More about Ian Mortimer...
The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century The Perfect King: The Life of Edward III, Father of the English Nation The Greatest Traitor: The Life of Sir Roger Mortimer, Ruler of England 1327-1330 Fears of Henry IV: The Life of England's Self-made King 1415: Henry V's Year Of Glory

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“In Elizabethan England you will only find small codpieces. Large ones, stuffed with wool and looking like an erect male member, are out of date” 2 likes
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