Elizabeth's London

Elizabeth's London : Everyday Life in Elizabethan London

4.01 (747 ratings by Goodreads)
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'Reading this book is like taking a ride on a marvellously exhilarating time-machine, alive with colour, surprise and sheer merriment' Jan Morris

Elizabethan London reveals the practical details of everyday life so often ignored in conventional history books.

It begins with the River Thames, the lifeblood of Elizabethan London, before turning to the streets and the traffic in them. Liza Picard surveys building methods and shows us the interior decor of the rich and the not-so-rich, and what they were likely to be growing in their gardens. Then the Londoners of the time take the stage, in all their amazing finery. Plague, smallpox and other diseases afflicted them. But food and drink, sex and marriage and family life provided comfort. Cares could be forgotten in a playhouse or the bull-baiting of bear-baiting rings, or watching a good cockfight.

Liza Picard's wonderfully skilful and vivid evocation of the London of Elizabeth I enables us to share the delights, as well as the horrors, of the everyday lives of our sixteenth-century ancestors.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 128 x 188 x 30mm | 399.16g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • UK ed.
  • 1 Maps
  • 0753817578
  • 9780753817575
  • 211,358

Review quote

ELIZABETH'S LONDON is satisfyingly rich and substantial. -- Daniel Hahn * AROUND THE GLOBE * Liza Picard brilliantly captures the spirit of the age. * EXPRESS * this is a book for ducking and weaving through.... this makes satisfying toilet reading - especially the bits about how private loos in the age of Shakespeare were even nastier than our nastiest public loos today. -- Christopher Bray * THE DAILY TELEGRAPH * An evocative survey of the satisfactions and vexations of life in the capital in the later 16th century * HISTORY TODAY * Picard makes spirited use of topographies, diaries, letters, account books, wills and inventories to detail the costs and conditions of this unprecedented expansion ... The author's third guide-book to the capital's past is as highly readable as her earlier examinations of Restoration and Georgian London -- Robin Blake * FINANCIAL TIMES * Setting out to provide a detailed inventory of daily life in Tudor London ... she is unflappably curious in her sifting through 16th-century lives -- Andrew Holgate * SUNDAY TIMES * A book that is both historically sound and hysterically funny, this is one to be cherished -- GOOD BOOK GUIDE Drawing on a variety of sources, including records from Queen Elizabeth I's astrologer, doctors, churchwardens and foreign visitors, Elizabeth's London describes what life was like 400 years ago, not for the royal courtiers we so often see in period dramas, but for ordinary Londoners. It covers all the topics you might expect - such as food, buildings, diseases and religion - as well as the more unusual realities of life during Elizabeth's reign ... Following Dr Johnson's London and Restoration London, Picard again demonstrates her enormous knowledge of, and passion for, London's past -- Les Pickford * GEOGRAPHICAL * A warts-and-all portrayal of the sights, stinks and cries of this vibrant, teeming and unsanitary city. Every chapter is filled with incident and accident ... Picard's book contains many surprises ... Elizabeth's London provides a wonderfully evocative portrait of this lively, if squalid, city, and is an essential companion to the author's previous books -- Giles Milton * LIVING HISTORY * The reader is taken along the Thames, through the city drains and conduits to the sewers and privies, buildings, gardens and streets, from there to the people who crowded them, and to their complexes and cares. There is much to learn here: how to amputate a leg, or bake a humble pie (deer's entrails with mutton suet). The author has a charming fascination with words and their origins ... This is a vibrant, sparkling insight given with great zest and personality -- Alex Burghart * TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT * The third of Picard's series of London histories is full of ... evocative images and little gems of information ... Picard is at her most entertaining in describing the agonies of Elizabethan fashion ... Picard's technique of using short entries to cover all aspects of daily life makes her books so rewarding to dip into -- Maureen Waller * THE TIMES * This riveting account embraces everything from immigration, crime and poor relief, to the invention in 1596 of the water closet. There are fascinating chapters on the naming and shaming of miscreants ... Picard reads with style and grace -- Betty Tadman * SCOTSMAN * An exuberant book ... a conscientious and scholarly analysis of London's condition in the 16th century, contemplating every civic aspect from the sartorial to the gynaecological. Reading this book is like taking a ride on a marvellously exhilarating time-machine, alive with colour, surprise and sheer merriment -- Jan Morris * NEW STATESMAN * From traffic congestion to cures for kidney stones; from water supplies to wood panelling; from etiquette to immigrants; from gardening to childbirth: it's all here in this captivating portrait of one of the world's greatest cities in its greatest age. For all the easy-going tone, this is a work of impressive learning, full of details of everyday practicalities that most recent history books ignore. Often a revelation, it's invariably a pleasure -- Michael Kerrigan * SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY * Her formula ... is a winning one ... Elizabeth's London is, like its predecessors, a storehouse of fascinating information. Every page contains a nugget ... From birth to death, and everything in between, Picard has given us a wide-ranging survey of London and Londoners in an earlier age -- Lucy Moore * DAILY MAIL *
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About Liza Picard

Liza Picard was born in 1927. She is the bestselling author an acclaimed series of books on the history of London: Elizabeth's London, Restoration London, Dr Johnson's London and Victorian London. Her most recent book, Chaucer's People, explores the Middle Ages through the lives of the pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales.

She read law at the London School of Economics and was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn, but did not practise. She worked for many years in the office of the Solicitor of the Inland Revenue before retiring to become a full-time author. She lives in London.
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Rating details

747 ratings
4.01 out of 5 stars
5 35% (259)
4 38% (284)
3 22% (165)
2 4% (33)
1 1% (6)
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