How to Behave Badly in Elizabethan England: A Guide for Knaves, Fools, Harlots, Cuckolds, Drunkards, Liars, Thieves, and Braggarts (Hardcover)
Offensive language, insolent behavior, slights, brawls, and scandals come alive in Ruth Goodman’s uproarious history.
Every age and social strata has its bad eggs, rule-breakers, and nose-thumbers. As acclaimed popular historian and author of How to Be a Victorian Ruth Goodman shows in her madcap chronicle, Elizabethan England was particularly rank with troublemakers, from snooty needlers who took aim with a cutting “thee,” to lowbrow drunkards with revolting table manners. Goodman draws on advice manuals, court cases, and sermons to offer this colorfully crude portrait of offenses most foul. Mischievous readers will delight in learning how to time your impressions for the biggest laugh, why quoting Shakespeare was poor form, and why curses hurled at women were almost always about sex (and why we shouldn’t be surprised). Bringing her signature “exhilarating and contagious” enthusiasm (Boston Globe), this is a celebration of one of history’s naughtiest periods, when derision was an art form.
About the Author
Ruth Goodman is the author of multiple books on English domestic history, among them How to Be a Victorian. An historian of British life, she has presented a number of BBC television series, including Tudor Monastery Farm. She lives in the United Kingdom.
Oh, how I wish Ruth Goodman could be my tutor. But settling in for one of her history lessons is better than second best... Although 21st-century Americans aren’t likely to be hauled into court, as some 16th-century Britons were, for deploying a pungent epithet like ‘a turd in your teeth’ or engaging in the criminal offense of ‘scolding,’ Goodman need hardly remind us that ‘manners, power and insult are intricately linked.’
— Alida Becker, New York Times Book Review
Gleeful and illuminating.... Goodman deftly combines anecdotes and examples that illustrate each topic and clear explanations of why certain behavior matters socially and philosophically in that time and place. Both a highly readable and very funny treatment of a popular historical period and an invitation for readers to think about their own understandings of social etiquette.
— Sara Jorgensen, Booklist [starred review]
This entertaining, excellent book from Goodman (How to Be a Tudor) provides a window into the nitty-gritty of daily life for merchants, street sellers, and others listed in the subtitle in 1550–1660 England.... As in her previous work, Goodman’s scholarship is exemplary, and she sets the record straight on modern misperceptions of 16th- and 17th-century life... Accessible, fun, and historically accurate, this etiquette guide will yield chuckles, surprises, and a greater understanding of everyday life in Renaissance England.
— Publishers Weekly, starred review
With exhaustive research and in gleeful detail, Goodman (How to Be a Tudor, 2016, etc.) explores the gamut of misconduct in Stuart and Tudor England, including offensive speech and gestures, the perverse delights of mockery and ridicule, the ripostes of physical violence, and a gallery of repellent habits and repulsive displays of bodily functions. The author has a wicked taste for the objectionable and the wit to deliver it in a wholly enjoyable, even educational way.... The book overflows with historical curiosities, interesting asides, and eyebrow-raising aha moments.... Etiquette, it seems, is a complex and involved business, but Goodman helps us navigate the shoals of another era's sensibilities in a way that is also illuminating of our own.