Organized as a travel guide for the time-hopping tourist, The Time-Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England is an entertaining popular history with a twist. Historian Ian Mortimer reveals in delightful (and occasionally disturbing) detail how the streets and homes of 16th century looked, sounded, and smelled for both peasants and for royals; what people wore and ate; how they were punished for crimes and treated for diseases; and the complex and contradictory Elizabethan attitudes toward violence, class, sex, and religion. Mortimer also indulges readers in the lives of literary luminaries such as Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Sir Walter Raleigh.
©2012 Forrester Mortimer Ltd. (P)2013 W.F. Howes
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I gave top marks to Ian Mortimer's book The Time Traveler's Guide To Medieval England, and I'm overjoyed beyond words to see this book now in the Audible lineup. More please! Mortimer's claim of history is that a relic or a ruin can only teach us so much about history; what we understand about our own world is what makes those lessons accessible. As such, the "gimmicky" nature of this history book sets it apart from all others because it's not "that book." It's an in-depth portrait of the reign of England's "Golden Age" under Gloriana that connects the dots between the people of that time and ours. It's a present tense account that allows the reader to fully explore a time, place, and culture in a fully three-dimensional way, complete with sights, sounds, smells, tastes, personalities, attitudes, hopes, fears, ambitions, and everything else that is generally omitted from the textbooks of names, dates, and events. Complex issues such as religion and politics of the age are brought to life in a way that an outsider can understand it and embrace it as a catapult to further exploration. But at the same time, you get to walk down the streets, take in the sights, meet the people, and peek into their lives like a tourist... or an intruder. You will laugh. You will cringe. You will pick your jaw up off the ground. And mostly, you will become familiar with a world that would otherwise be completely alien to us and gain an appreciation for it you might not otherwise get from those other books alone.
As with the Medieval England book, this is a near-perfect work, not only for the historically-inclined like myself, but also for those who claim to hate history because it's "boring." Mortimer's brand of history is a public service for the rest of us that brings both the modern sensibilities of "just the facts" found in the sterile accounts offered today as well as the kind of storytelling magic that historians of yesteryear brought to the table. The result is as close to living history as we can get without actually traveling through time, and it is astounding, if only because we don't have to smell it. If I have a complaint at all, it's that I want MORE. Hopefully those other books will be added to the Audible lineup in the near future.
OCD over books, listening to 1 a day; ANY genre, fact & fiction. Influenced by Audible reviewers so I keep mine unbiased - FRONT to BLACK!
I admit to being an unabashed Anglophile, especially the history of the country, its people and the monarchs. This book has my three favorite things in reading: England, Elizabeth I and lots of detailed minutiae! (My friends call me "a font of useless information. Who cares? I always know the answers on "Jeopardy"!) I've read or listened about 200 factual history books on the Tudors and QE1, in addition to another 150 fact-based fictional accounts. Not one time did ever really take the time to notice that those authors talked about a lot of things that I really didn't understand but went with them as part of the story. Like the word "doxie" - I kinda knew the definition but not how and why it was created. Or that Sir Francis Drake was so darn mentally ill ("Gloriana Alzheimer's", perchance?) that he hung his navigator for no reason and kidnapped a black woman in America, then threw her off the ship in Indonesia because she became pregnant after being raped by Drake and his crew. Ian Mortimer addresses everything about the Elizabethan Age, from what the streets smelled like, how poor people lived, what and how each each class of people ate, wore, rode, played, worked, bathed, used the toilet, etc. He reveals that, other than being a fashion trendsetter, the Queen did nothing at all during her long reign to advance the rights of women who were treated like chattel. I didn't know that 16th century England had black people living there, classed as not quite chattel but not really free either.
The narrator is amazing. His delivery is tongue-in-cheek which fits perfect because the writer acts like he's a contemporary tour guide talking to the listener. He warns us not to visit the Earl of Leicester at his estate Kenilworth Manor if the Queen is visiting with her posse of 300 courtiers and servants as we will have to sleep in the garden because every bit of space is taken up by Bess' people, horses, and wagons. You will be told what to REALLY expect if you're sentenced to be "drawn and quartered", with additional warnings on how to avoid getting yourself in trouble during your vacation in England.
It is the rare audiobook that I will buy in print version. This is one of them!
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This book was so full of interesting facts it makes me wish I had a better memory!
I enjoy learning new things; it's such a shame to think I'll only retain a fraction of this knowledge.
I was riveted throughout most of it, although some topics interested me less than others so I can't say I hung on EVERY word - some passages were a little dry.
The overall concept is fantastic and it's a brilliant way to educate one's self about this time in history.
I hope he writes more - I loved it!
I am listening to this book again as I write this. I am so hooked on the way Ian Mortimer gives us, the time traveler, a look at Elizabethan England like we never realized it existed. It's amazing...and sometimes horrible, and makes me glad I'm alive today in the 21st century. We take flush toilets for granted -- I never will again.
And I found out that board games and other games for entertainment were against the law because the monarchy wanted them to practice archery. Women had NO rights at all, and Queen Elizabeth traveled in a stagecoach, along with a spare, and had a "convenience coach" in case she had to use the loo. Twenty was middle aged. Disease and plague were every day threats, and you should hear about the cures! The one using the goat's behind got me.
This is just the tip of the iceberg! Seventeen hours was not enough. I had to listen to it again. Mike Grady is perfect as our guide through Elizabethan England. I hope there are more coming from this author. This was jaw-dropping fun. As my Southern relatives might say, "Y'all ain't gonna believe this sh....." Have fun with this one!
Eye Opening Facts
First it was broken down into sections IE; Medicine, Dress codes etc. really made it easy to listen and to follow.
He was wonderful, he drew the listener into the subject matter, you wanted to know MORE!
The horrid conditions for the poor and the misogyny at all levels of society. Even the women with wealth were restricted in so many ways. The poor woman were used and discarded and many times ended up being fodder for those who chose to break laws, and then have these poor woman bare the brunt of what will happen. Things haven't changed even with a FEMALE Monarch.
As an individual who not only enjoys history, and historical novels Ian Mortimer did his homework. It must have taken him years to collect all his information. It was done very well and in a way anyone will enjoy who wants to know more about the time of the reign of Elizabeth I
I previously bought and listened to Ian Mortimer's "The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century" and liked it enough to want to buy another one by the same author, thinking that it would be just as enjoyable. Unfortunately I was mistaken. Mortimer somehow managed to strip away the fun bits that made "Medieval England" great, but retained what made it boring, to create "Elizabethan England." I could not get through the tedium of the list upon list of mundane items that the author seemed to enjoy putting in the book. They seemed to serve no purpose but to show that the author had researched and found those lists. To say the least, this did not prepare me for a visit to Elizabethan England at all.
I don't think I have listened to one entire chapter in this book.
At times it was just like listening to a dull professor reading statistical facts. And a lot of them at that.
I did like the narrators voice and pace but the book, while interesting in parts, was not worth the plodding listing of facts so I had to stop listening. On a bright note it would put me to sleep.
Glass blower and audiobook junkie. Books are my schoolroom and my entertainment!
This book was dryer and more boring than it needed to be. With such a fanciful title I was hoping it would take a little more of a creative route to history, painting pictures in your mind to give you a taste of the time period. Not so. It sounded like the author had access to a lot of primary sources, like receipts, inventories, and official records, which he obligingly read to you verbatim. The narrator, bless his heart, did a better job than I ever could've imagined at reading these lists and breathing life into them. He sounded engaged the whole time and it really helped me stay engaged.
If I were writing a historical fiction novel set in Elizabethan England I would probably buy this in hardcopy as a reference book. I don't think I could bring myself to listen to it all the way through again. It really was interesting, but he spent a lot of time in all the little particulars and not enough in drawing them together with generalities.
Worth the time
it is similar to the prequel time travellers guide to mediaeval England but I Think a little livelier
excellent narrator clear and enthusiastic
The whole book is full of interesting facts but it is at no point dry like some conventional history
definitely worth taking with you on your next time travelling adventure
British ex-pat living in NC. Have more personalities than Sybil which is reflected in my choice of books! Frustrated writer at heart.
This book was so much fun! Forget about what you have seen on the TV and in the movies. The ladies with their beautiful long tresses and the gentlemen with their perfectly groomed facial hair. I have done my fair share of tours of British castles and stately homes. In fact a few decades ago I was even a guide for the National Trust but it never occurred to me to ask how did Tudor men shave or how did those women keep those long locks flowing and glossy?
In short....they didn't! They had head and body lice. Sexually transmitted diseases. Childbirth was almost a death sentence in some cases. After reading this I am amazed that the human race survived at all.
Clothes were brushed, not washed. Bodies were bathed rarely as the water came from the same rivers where the animal and human excrement was dispatched!
I laughed and my eyebrows raised so high that I looked as if I had gone under the knife of a really bad cosmetic surgeon!
Wonderful read/ listen. Performed with panache. Not one boring moment.
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