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
I grew up on Golden Age Radio, I love to learn about a great many things, and I enjoy a wide variety of genres. Me, bored? Never!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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
Though 17 hours, it went quickly! I was disappointed to have to pause it, and though I'm historian, I knew very little about this place and time . . . until now!
Just like his earlier work Ian Mortimer clearly tells us what life was like during Elizabeth's reign. Mike Grady makes the material his own as he breathes life into Ian's work.
An entertaining, communicative and comprehensive walk through Elizabethan England. I absolutely loved it! You will too.
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