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The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in Renaissance England (Writer's Guides to Everyday Life) Hardcover – September, 1996

15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Feeling a bit "elf-shot" these days? Perusing this recent addition to the Writer's Digest's Writer's Guide history series will take your mind off such troubles. It has information on everything from Shakespearean-era postal systems to waterways to holidays to diets; it also defines contemporaneous lingo like the aforementioned supernatural malady. It's the next best thing to a time machine.

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Product Details

  • Series: Writer's Guides to Everyday Life
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books; First Edition edition (September 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898797527
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898797527
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #898,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author


Kathy Lynn Emerson is the author of over fifty works of fiction and nonfiction written under the names Kathy Lynn Emerson, Kaitlyn Dunnett, Kate Emerson, and Kaitlyn Gorton. Many of them reflect her interest in life in sixteenth-century England and she maintains a series of mini-biographies online as "A Who's Who of Tudor Women." She won the Agatha award for mystery nonfiction for How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries: The Art and Adventure of Sleuthing Through the Past. Currently she writes the Liss MacCrimmon Scottish-American Heritage Mystery series (Ho-Ho-Homicide, 2014) as Kaitlyn Dunnett and as Kathy Lynn Emerson writes the Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries (Murder in the Queen's Wardrobe, 2015), featuring Elizabethan gentlewoman, sleuth, and spy Rosamond Jaffrey. For more information, visit Kathy's webpages at KathyLynnEmerson.com

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Maggie Boleyn on January 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
If your interest in the Renaissance centers on 16th century England, then this book's for you. With chapters arranged by broad subjects, such as Everyday Life, Government and War, and Society, it's easy to locate topics. If you are looking for a quick reference tool specific to the English Renaissance, this book belongs in your collection
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By R. Riis VINE VOICE on March 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Not just for writers, but historians, hobbyists, and anyone interested in the small details of life in other times. This volume, like the others in the series, includes chapters (with figures and illustrations) on food, clothing, family life, work, education, religion, leisure activities, social and political history, etc. Great for browsing, great for research. Recommended.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 24, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The Writer's Guide to Renaissance England is a fantastic resource for everything to Elizabethan clothing, to what they ate, what they believed in and anything you need to research an aspect of English Renaissance culture. It's descriptive, thoural, and extreemely helpful.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Chrijeff VINE VOICE on December 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Most Americans who would be interested in such things, after all, have probably visited a Colonial reconstruction (like Williamsburg) at some point, and seen the artifacts of the period up close and personal, so it doesn't matter too much that the volume this series offers about Colonial America isn't too well supplied with pictures. But visual recreations of Elizabethiana are thinner on the ground, and it would have helped to have been able to see something of the objects described (I had to haul out one of my costume references to comprehend the description of Anne Boleyn's trademark headdress, for example). That much said, the book is packed with useful information ranging from plots against the Virgin Queen to how much things cost to education, language (including the Scots dialect), and witchcraft. And it offers sizeable bibliographies of other books to seek out in connection with various specialized subjects. On balance, I have to say that I got a lot out of it, and would recommend it as a good jumping-off place for students as well as writers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Venus A. Rachal VINE VOICE on September 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book years ago because I love stories set in the Medieval and Renaissance periods. What I loved about this book, is that it helped me to get a wide variety of information in short period of time. It provides information about clothing, food, money, the law, and royalty. I used it to create a 30 page story in college.

Because of the amount of information, as well as bibliographical listings for you to expand upon your research, it makes a great reference when you are writing a story set in this period. If you are writing a novel or a feature-length screenplay, you'll need more information than is covered in this book, but for a short story or to supplement information that you have, it is fabulous. You can also use it when you have no idea where to begin your research. The bibliographies are designed so that you can find out information on a specific subject quickly rather than researching the whole period in general.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had a good time reading through this book. Lots of interesting stuff and the detail appears good. This is necessarily an overview, but the narrative is very well done, and as comprehensive as it can be when a not overlarge book is covering 164 years of everything that went on in a whole country. What is great about this book, is that Kathy Lynn Emerson has put a bibliography at the end of each chapter, as well as a general bibliography at the end of the book.

I've read a lot of books about the Tudors, and I was still surprised with details I didn't know. For example, in the 16th and 17th centuries, the English used the name "Narrow Seas" for the English Channel. And can you guess what we now call the German Ocean?

I do still have one question, though. The chapter on money explains that a penny or pence (plural of penny) are noted as a "d", such as
13s 4d
means 13 shillings and 4 pence,
but not why a "d" came to mean a penny.

The book is divided into three broad parts, each part divided into more specific chapters:
Part 1: Everyday Life
Clothes and Accessories, Food and Drink, Architecture, Furnishing a House, Marriage and Family, Physic and Physicians
Part 2: Government and War
Government, Monarchs, Nobles and Commoners, Crime and Punishment, Coins, Money and How Much Things Cost, War and Peace, A Seafaring Nation
Part 3: Renaissance Society
Education: Secular and Religious, Employment, Entertainment, Language, Life in London and Other Cities, Rural Life, Travel and Travelers, Witches, Magic, Necromancy and Superstition

This is a nice reference book, and I like the professional way the author lists further reading if you require more detail.

P.S. The German Ocean is now called the North Sea.

Happy Reader
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A great, useful, and engaging reference book about everyday life during the Renaissance. That is, rather than the big historical events and figures, more about what normal life was like for all walks of life during the period. Covers entertainment, employment, beliefs, clothing, food, royalty to yeomen, city to country life, and technology and trade. Though not an easy straight-through read (more of a reference book), it is incredibly handy, chock-full of information, and brilliantly fascinating. I read it for background in preparation of Renaissance Faires, and I got a great feel for the period. This, after all, is what history is all about--the everyday world of the past. Grade: B+
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