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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 February 2012
This is a highly entertaining, fascinating and very readable book, which treats the reader to the closest thing we will ever get to an understanding of what it would have been like to live in the reign of Elizabeth 1, short of actual time travel to see for ourselves.

Mortimer covers all aspects of life for Elizabethans, through the creation of a guide book for the time traveller. He explains what the landscape would have looked and smelled like in the countryside and in the towns, and what life would have been like for people living in the numerous and often confusing social hierarchies. He gives advice to the time traveller on, amongst other things, how to educate your children, how to travel, how to follow your religious beliefs safely, what to eat, what to wear, and how to conduct yourself politely. Throughout, Mortimer provides fascinating accounts of life, with numerous anecdotes to bring the past alive.

This is every bit as good, and maybe even better, than The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England, by the same author.

Quite superb - highly recommended

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on 8 March 2012
I love all Ian Mortimers books be they fact or fiction. This book gives a true & interesting account of life in Elizabethan England. Ian Mortimer writes in such a way that history comes to life & you really feel that you are standing on which ever street that you are reading about. Even the smells drift out of the pages & he paints such a vivid picture that you see every detail in your minds eye.
Ian Mortimer makes history fun to read & his books get better with each new publication. Buy this book, read it & most of all enjoy every word.
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VINE VOICEon 25 March 2012
Really describes things vividly. The time-traveller angle could be seen as just a gimmick or gambit, but it really acts as a convenient pretext/excuse to explain all the things that other narrative history books don't find time to. How did people greet each other? What did they wear? How much was a beer? Etc. This book is first class and I didn't hesitate for even one second to give it five stars.
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on 21 April 2012
I think I must have read everything on the Tudors I can get my hands on so I was a bit sceptical that this book could tell me something I didn't already know. This book is fantastic and presents information about everyday life in Elizabethan England in a very clear, interesting and accessible manner. It is split into shorter subject areas and 'guides' you around Elizabethan England and explains what you will see and why. It is well-sourced with original accounts. Excellent book - a new take on a very saturated subject-area.
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on 28 March 2012
I enjoyed Ian Mortimer's previous Time Traveller's Guide a lot, and this sequel didn't disappoint. It brings Tudor England to robust life. I found the chapters on food and clothing particularly vivid. It's well-organised and flows easily from topic to topic, and I'd recommend it just as much for a beginner as for someone who's already steeped in the period. Highly recommended.
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on 16 June 2012
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 exactly how many eggs, quails, eels etc were stored in a kitchen. I am interested in social history, and enjoy learning about day to day life for the 'normal' people of the time, but I found myself skimming the long, long lists of how many pewter jugs they had, how many sheets etc. There are just too many of these - lines and lines of every single household object, which we've already learnt about as the person mentioned in the paragraph before had exactly the same things. So I knocked a star off my rating for that, sorry if that's a bit harsh.
I didn't enjoy this book as much as Mortimers previous 'Medieval' offering, maybe because I knew more about the Elizabethan period initially. It was repetitive, and not as descriptive - because of the religious turmoil at the time, almost every chapter included some mention of faith, which I'd already read about in the chapter 'Religion'.
I'm sounding a lot more disgruntled about this book than I actually am. I think because I enjoyed the medieval guide so much more that I was expecting a great deal from this one. It is actually a very good, enjoyable, informative read. It just dragged sometimes - but everyones view is going to be entirely personal to them as no-one is interested in the same things. Unfortunately for me all the topics I wasn't so excited about were all put next to each other in order of chapters - I enjoyed the latter half of the book much more. I loved the chapter on poetry and the theatre (being an actress) - some lovely choices of quotations and examples.
Finally, a note for Kindle users. The pictures included with the book are all shoved at the end, are all black and white and teeny tiny. I've said this before about other Kindle books, and I hope one day they'll update their software so that Kindle users can view any illustrations or visual material how it was supposed to be shown, on a full page!
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on 10 April 2012
The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England I loved Ian Mortimer's approach to Elizabethan history and as a writer of historical novels, currently working on one set in England at the time of the Armada, found it a marvellous resource as well as an entertaining read. Many books take us to the world of the court and its politics but this one is full of the everyday detail that brings a society to life. In it, we taste the flavours of Elizabethan food, smell the smells (more often awful stinks) Elizabethans would have smelled, find out what they aspired to own and live in, how they dressed and cleaned their clothes and lots of other interesting details.
The premise of advising the time traveller when to visit as well as what to expect (even down to mentioning famine years to miss) works excellently. The sheer amount of information might have been daunting but well-organised chapters prevented this being a problem.
People who already know the medieval guide have probably already bought this or got it on their wish list but to history enthusiasts new to Mr Mortimer's work I heartily recommend it.
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on 6 May 2014
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 aristocracy and nobility are in charge and there are different layers from gentlemen, yeoman, and artificers and all the way down to the poor. He all carefully walks round the religions of the day, from the now official Protestant faith the the suppressed catholic faith.

Now equipped with the fundamentals he takes you thought the basic elements that you need to survive in that society, from writing to the language, shopping to measurements, the travel arrangements that you need to make and the clothes that you need to be seen wearing. When travelling you are advised how to avoid criminals and highwaymen, and details on the diseases of the time. Having reached your destination , then some entertainment will be on the cards, before knowing where to stay. You need to keep your wits about you, life is harsh for anyone in the age. Sealing anything with a value greater than 12d means that you could endue being hung!

Most of the time it is written as if you are accompanying the guide, but occasionally he takes a wider view. There is a wealth of information in this book. Almost too much to take in in one go. It is a book to be dipped into and savoured because every time you go back to it you will find something new.
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on 14 October 2013
The reign of Elizabeth I [1558 - 1603] is popularly perceived as being a Golden Age for England and it was undeniably a time of greatness: the defeat of the Spanish Armada; Francis Drake successfully circumnavigating the globe; amazing writers [Frances Bacon], poets [Edmund Spenser, Philip Sidney] and playwrights [William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlow]; extraordinary architecture [Hardwick Hall]; innovation in science, gardening, theology, history and music; and all of this presided over by the powerful personality good old Gloriana herself.

However, as Ian Mortimer comments in his introduction to The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England, the Elizabethan era was also a time of great uncertainly: "it is not that [Elizabeth's England] lacks self-confidence, but that its confidence is easily shaken." While the grand events and great personalities of the period may well be thoroughly documented, a lot of the minutiae of everyday life would likely seem puzzling to someone transported from the present day to the latter half of the 16th century [even after they had worked out the small issue of the time travel itself].

Bearing this in mind, Mortimer has written The Time Traveller's Guide in order to describe the Elizabethan era objectively and clearly so that the reader can understand what things were actually like at the time. It is certainly true that a clear picture of a time period can only be achieved through an examination of the day-to-day realities of the time as well as any monumental events that seem to characterise the period. To provide such a picture, Mortimer uses the same ingenious approach that he used with his Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England and frames the text of the book around those questions that worry tourists wherever they are travelling to: Where will I stay? What should I wear? What will I eat? How should I talk to people?

As you would expect from all good guidebooks, Mortimer takes the reader on a detailed and exciting tour of England during the time of Elizabeth I. He begins by discussing the landscape, both the countryside and the quickly growing towns, with special mention being made of the bustle of London. After the reader has thus been orientated, Mortimer introduces the kind of people who one might meet, from Queen Elizabeth herself to the poor house dwellers via yeomen, professionals, the gentry and so on. So that no traveller need feel uninformed, Mortimer also offers insight on religion, travel, food and drink, law and disorder and just about every other aspect of Elizabethan life that might be encountered. There is a lot of information to take in but it is presented in such an enthralling way that time seems to whizz by during reading.

The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England is an extremely interesting and well-written book. It provides a vivid and realistic insight into the lives of people from all the social strata of Elizabethan England as well as into the development and appearance of the country itself. The accompanying illustrations are clear and well reproduced and so serve to enhance the reading experience. One question does still remains though: did the Earl of Essex wear underpants in 1601?
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on 3 June 2013
If you were transported back to Elizabethan England, what would you ned to know? This book tells you everything, from manners and measures to which diseases you can perhaps avoid - and which you can't. The amount of research that has gone into it is amazing, but the tone is light and Mortimer has an unfailing instinct for which bits are most interesting. Of course he tells you how to greet people, but what I really wanted to know - and what is described in great detail, is how they wash and what the toilet facilities are like.
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