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A Compendium of Common Knowledge, 1558-1603: Elizabethan Commonplaces for Writers, Actors & Re-enactors Paperback – June 10, 2008
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From the Publisher
The Compendium of Common Knowledge at elizabethan.org has long been the go-to website for authors, students, actors, re-enactors, and Elizabethan enthusiasts of all kinds. Now in paperback from Popinjay Press, anyone can have the Compendium on hand wherever they go!
From the Back Cover
What can you do with the Compendium in paperback that you can't do online? * Make notes in the margins * Read it in bed * Take it to workshops * Stash it in the tourney box * Write a book report * Give extra copies as gifts * And best of all--you can use it even when the computer is down!
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The author doesn't pretend to be giving an authoritative or exhaustive history of Tudor England, but neither does she pretend that the "Tudor era" is an all-encompassing entity. What was slang or customary in Ireland didn't work the same way in, say, London, and she makes that very clear. She doesn't cite her sources for absolutely everything, either, but instead gives a few main source books for each section. Much like a stage costumer's sewing guide doesn't replace actual textile histories, this book makes learning flavor slang easier but won't substitute for actually learning the era's fascinating history. By the time you're finished studying this book, you'll have a good idea of how to talk and act at the next SCA event or Renfaire, or else how to give the impression you know what you're talking about in your writing. It covers from soup to nuts, with extensive attention given to religious customs and occupations. Appendices at the end include extras like a list of questions that readers can answer to help develop their characters.
You could get these details from a few dozen history books, yes, but what the author's done here is assemble them all in one place. I do think it was a little disorganized-seeming, as well as a bit short in some sections that I'd have loved to have seen be larger. It also maintains a narrow focus on the British Isles. But overall this book achieves its goals. It is definitely recommended for those seeking to learn how to add flavor to an English/Irish/Scottish (or "Scotch," as the book recommends) persona. Younger readers will likely find the book especially fascinating as I don't think they get exposed to much stuff like this in their schooling.
This is an invaluable resource to the writer in the Elizabethan era.
The author's writing style is not remote or impersonal and perusing it's pages is like engaging in a friendly chat. The facts are well documented and I feel confident I am presenting a sound history to my students by having them use this book. I use the Compendium in arranging class lessons as well as preparing the students for our annual Renaissance Fair and Walk Through History. Thank you!