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Elizabeth's London: Everyday Life in Elizabethan London

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  896 ratings  ·  68 reviews
This picture of the London of Queen Elizabeth (1558-1603) is the result of Liza Picard's curiosity about the practical details of daily life that almost every history book ignores. As seen in her two previous, highly acclaimed books-Restoration London and Dr. Johnson's London-she has immersed herself in contemporary sources of every kind. She begins with the River Thames, ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published June 1st 2005 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2003)
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Clari I haven't read Mortimer's book yet so can't give you any comparison of content, but as you hadn't received an answer yet, thought I would reply to say…moreI haven't read Mortimer's book yet so can't give you any comparison of content, but as you hadn't received an answer yet, thought I would reply to say this is a nice informal tone that I felt evoked the period well. And Ihave read a few books set in this period now, I think they all give slightly different emphasis and build on themes of the others to give you a more complete picture, if it is a time period that is of real interest to you.(less)

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Jun 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
"Not very scholarly", sniffed a high-and-mighty reviewer. I disagree. I found it to be everything promised, a joy to read, and I learned a lot. It's exactly what the title says--an overview of everyday life in Elizabethan London. Just enough of a huge variety of topics to give the reader an idea of what life might have been like. And if, like me, the reader wants to delve into more specific (and much drier) topics, we're free to do so. (What did I delve into? Pietro Aretino's sixteen pornographi ...more
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Re-read 2016 I love Liza Picard's history books they're ones that I read again and again. I enjoy reading about the everyday life of an era. How they worked, ate, lived and what they wore, used etc. The book is older and getting to the end of its usefulness as accepted research material, but I still think it's great, and will likely re-read it many more times.
I did not finish this one. I guess I'm more interested in the people living in Elizabethan times rather than how people lived during that time. Too much early detail about the layout of the land and water and I just couldn't get into it.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jill Hutchinson
Mar 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: world-history
This book puts the reader smack dab in the middle of Elizabeth's London of the late 14th century and it is not particularly a pretty picture. London was emerging as the center of the western world and this position was solidified by the reign on Elizabeth I. Change was slow to come and the Queen became a force in shaping the environment of a growing city, faced with many problems.

The author separates the book into chapters dealing with such issues as marriage, buildings, health, sanitation, clot
Dec 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
When I dream at night I hope to dream of two things: 1) cherry pies, snicker bars & chocolate chip cookies or 2) Elizabeth's London.

This is not a dry text book (no offense to text book junkies). Liza Picard brings Elizabethan London to life with details small and large. As some of you have heard, her description of an Elizabethan traffic jam has pretty much changed the way I look at rush hour. And who knows why they started wearing the famous "ruff"- well, liza does and now I do too. Liza also i
I found this a lively though not very scholarly guide to London in the time of Elizabeth I. Picard adopts a chatty tone which is very readable and often funny, and she includes lots of quotes from primary sources. However, I often wanted her to try to go deeper into her subject. For instance, after spending an entire chapter on the poor of London and concluding that "there was a splendid, comprehensive, welfare system in place," she quotes a primary source which wonders why "the streets yet swar ...more
Emily Williams
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I actually began reading this when I was on my first trip to England in 2011. Perfect accompaniment, of course.

Liza Picard has an ingenious knack for the kind of detail-heavy writing that doesn't feel weighed down or stuffy (she has also written guides to Victorian and Restoration London). This is both accessible for someone who may not have a thorough knowledge of 16th century England and the reader who can tell you exactly what street you would find a particular vendor in London during a parti
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: london
Interesting look at life in London during the reign of Elizabeth I.

Informative and entertaining. Lots of interesting facts for the history geek.

Highly recommended.
Well-written description of London during the reign of Elizabeth I, largely based on primary sources. Decently detailed considering the ground the author is covering here. While sticking to London and it's immediate environs, Picard does an excellent job of covering everything from the general to the very specific. The first section covers the physical structure of the city, starting with the river itself, major streets, sewerage and water, transportation, public structures, and then moving to b ...more
Sarah Beth
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This interesting history book sheds life on daily life in London as it might have been during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I from 1558 to her death in 1603. Each chapter focuses on a different area of interest, covering such topics as the River Thames, water and sewer, buildings and furnishings, gardens, health, clothes, diet, family life, education, entertainment, crime, the welfare system, and religion. Pulling from a vast range of sources, Picard gives an insightful image of what life was lik ...more
Jul 17, 2018 rated it liked it
What a big book! An exhaustive account of everyday life in Elizabethan London. The author did a terrific job of compiling the canon of knowledge on this one. Much of it is quite fascinating and even rather surprising, even though some bits are a bit of a slog as they seem to just be recitations of heaps of minute detail and lists of accounts. But the Epilogue is particularly worth the wait. If you are a student of a English history, you will enjoy this.
The book benefits hugely from the author’s
Andrew Cox
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant account that beautifully re-imagines what everyday life in Elizabethan London would have been like. I think people who dismiss Liza Picard's book for lack of 'scholarly' analysis are wide of the mark. The book shows exceptional scholastic ability and its theme concerns everyday life; it is not intended to be a comprehensive analysis of the power struggles of that period, and it is no less a book for that as not all history has to focus on political intrigues. An outstanding piece of ...more
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of the best book I've read about the Tudor period, this ranks just right about Jasper Ridley's Tudor Age, and for everyone interested in the society in the Elizabethan times this is the book for you. The title says Elizabeth's London but in truth it's a general study of Elizabethan period. Everything from fashion, mortality rates, women -upper class and lower class women- their religion, how that affected their lives and the lives of their families, houses, illness, food, the book is very th ...more
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating look into the day to day life of London in the Elizabethan times. The author covers every aspect of this. If y0u want to know how people lived through his day at that time, this is the book for you. I loved all the details. Life was not simple but very complicated with all the laws and rules.
Dec 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
Examples used were too repetitive, as though the author assumed one would read only one chapter rather than all the way through the book. Various modern references broke one out of the narrative and several side comments I found offensive.
Marcella Wigg
Elizabeth's London is an entertaining account of everyday life in Elizabethan London. The level of interest I had varied throughout the book; I found myself less drawn into the earlier chapters about the built environment than into later chapters about Elizabethan law, the welfare system, although the information about water transportation on the Thames, the streets, and other aspects of life in the city were still interesting. Elizabethan English is entertaining to the modern ear, and Picard is ...more
Brian Willis
May 23, 2017 rated it liked it
This book is a popular history of London during the mid-15th century, well researched but written in a conversational tone at times. It fulfills an important purpose: rather than cover the courtly and political world of London, or the theatrical world of Shakespeare at the time, it focuses on the civic, social, and domestic realities of Londoners' lives. Unfolding into detail over topics such as clothing, social customs and practices, food and dining, drink, commerce, the look and smell of stree ...more
John Newton
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: british-history
A fascinating introduction to life in London in the 16th century; a travel book, though the travel is back in time. The various aspects of daily life that Picard covers is dazzling, from the geography of the Thames before the Victorian embankments to the religious practices of the Church of England during the period. Much of it was familiar to me in its broad terms—people didn't bathe often, bear-baiting was entertainment, a boggling variety of forms of torture were used against criminals—but qu ...more
Logan Horsford
Mar 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
This book has managed to suck all of the passion out of history.

It is basically a retelling of some famous resource of London by some guy I can't remember the name of. You will hear it referenced plenty in the text.

In school, history is all about names and dates. Why? Easy to test on. Names and dates are why many people hate history. It is why you may come to hate history after reading this book.

History is about the passion, ego, greed, corruption and noble spirit of the people - common and not
Aug 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfic, tudor, history, england
Despite already having read a few guides to Elizabethan London, this one managed to have some new information. I was reading this to go over what I knew and to see if the author had a different insight into the city. I didn't expect to find extra information but was glad to.

Other than that, it's a pretty decently written overview, but I think I would have liked it more if it was even more in-depth. Some of the topics aren't addressed very thoroughly and the section on foreigners did go on too lo
Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is an excellent account of Elizabethan life with aspects that are not usually written about.
There was some really fascinating information and description here.
I did find some chapters a bit dry, for example, there is a section on water drainage and things like that which would be immensely helpful for anyone interested in that area and is something that I have not seen discussed before in other Tudor non-fiction books but as I say, I just found some of these sections a little slow.
Other t
Sarah Hearn
Sep 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this look at Elizabethan London; however, I feel a better map than the one included as one of the colour plates would have been very useful. The fact that the map went over two pages and therefore, naturally, had the centre of it consumed by the binding was frustrating. A fold out version would have been a better choice, in my opinion. Nevertheless, the lack of it did not impede my interest in the information in the text.
Claire Andrews
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
Didn’t finish. As I love history I thought this looked really interesting. But alas, apart from the bits in the chapter I was trying to read the entire book is enormously peppered with quotes and footnotes. I also found her style of writing incredibly disjointed. She chopped & changed what she was talking about with annoying rapidity. Sorry, not for me. ...more
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was hoping this book would be more like Judith Flanders's book, Inside the Victorian Home, with details about the home and domestic life. This book was more of a history, with information about parishes, religion, and the environs of London. I loved Picard's humor throughout the book. I do have more a sense of what London was like in the late 1500s.
Dec 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Insightful in depth look at Elizabethan London, with a nice sense of flavour. Some areas I had studied myself previously and were not surprising, others, such as the cooking, were new to me and I found fascinating.
Jazzmin Hunter
Apr 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
Total snoozefest. I listened to the audiobook and it's like having someone read a history textbook.
Gayla Bassham
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A well-researched and highly entertaining overview of life in Tudor London. It's not an academic history, but it is a pleasure to read.
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fun and fascinating book. Very easy to read.
G. Lawrence
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book. Well written, dry, informative
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Liza Picard was born in 1927. She read law at the London School of Economics and qualified as a barrister, but did not practise. She spent many years working in the office of the Solicitor of the Inland Revenue and lived in Gray’s Inn and Hackney, before retiring to live in Oxford.

Her legal training encouraged her to seek original evidence, rather than rely on other peoples' research. This she sa

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