Renaissance & Reformation

British Isles


copyright 1997 by Historical Novelists Center

Be sure and check the general Renaissance and Reformation bibliography for more general books, as well as the Ireland bibliography.

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Anderson, William, and Clive Hicks

Cathedrals in Britain and Ireland: from Early Times to the Reign of Henry VIII ***
Scribner, NY, 1978; bibliography, index; Macdonald and Jane's, London, 1978
Lots of stories and pictures. T3

Berleth, Richard J.

The Twilight Lords: an Irish Chronicle ****
Knopf, NY, distributed by Random House; 1978; bibliography, index
Deals with the Elizabethan attempts to subjugate Ireland, with the focus on Munster. T2

Bloch, Ivan

Sexual Life in England, Past & Present *****!
1938; now from Oracle; 664 pgs !!
What had to be privately printed in 1938 can be of general interest now. Despite the title, only covers from the Anglo-Saxon period through the late 1800's, but in a full range, from streetwalkers to the escapades of royalty, from staid marriage arrangements to kinky erotica. T2

Brett, Gerard

Dinner is Served ****
Archon Books, Hamden, CN, 1968
British meals of the day and their conduct; Part One covers up to 1660. One of the better books out on dining habits. T2

Burgess, Robert F.

Ships Beneath the Sea: A History of Subs and Submersibles ****
McGraw-Hill, 1975; 260 pg, index, bibliography
A courtier presented the idea of a submarine to Queen Elizabeth, and in 1620, Dr. van Drebble built a working one on which James I voyaged under the Thames. Chapter One deals with your period submersibles.. T2/3

Driver & Johnson

Pepys At Table *****!
120 pg
Samuel Pepys's diary is rarely presented unedited. Most editions emphasise the political and other notable events, but he commented in some detail on both fashion and food. Here the meals and dishes he mentioned are collected, with both period and modern recipes. T3

Discovering Antiques; The Story of World Antiques ****!

Purnell Partworks, London, 1970
This was an excellent periodical, later sold as a hard-bound set. All articles in this partwork are well-researched, with beautiful colour photos and period art, but each is specialist and limited. Consider this secondary or tertiary research, to fill in the details of the world you are starting to carry in your head. T3
Obviously, the five issues we have not seen will have covered the English, Italian, French, and Spanish Renaissance, possibly the Netherlands, and some earlier periods for antiques.

Ehrlich, Blake

London on the Thames ***
Little, Brown & Co., NY, 1966
Each chapter tours London at a different period, often in a slightly different neighborhood since London is constantly expanding. Good for establishing how far out London goes in YOUR year. T2

Eight Famous Elizabethan Plays ****

The Modern Library, Random House, NY, 1932
Alternatives to Shakespeare: Marlowe's "The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus; "The Shoemaker's Holiday" by Decker (1599); "A Woman Killed With Kindness" by Heywood (1603); "Volpone" by Jonson (1605); "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher; Webster's bloody "The Duchess of Malfi"; "A New Way to Pay Old Debts" by Massinger (1625); and "'Tis Pity She's A Whore: by Ford (1633). T2

Heath, Ernest Gerald

The Grey Goose Wing ***
New York Graphic Society, Greenwich, CN, 1971
Excellent history of the bow; last part Anglocentric, with some coverage of the Turks. T2

Hibbert, Christopher

London, the Biography of a City ***
William Morrow & Co., Inc., NY, 1969
Runs it all down through time, with good coverage of your period. T2

Holbein, Hans

Drawings by Holbein from the Royal Library Windsor Castle ****
HBJ (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich)
Magnificent portfolio of 85 of his drawings of people around the court of Henry VIII, at the luxurious size of 13.25" x 18.5". Also includes a slim hardcover of background on the artist. T2-3

Loades, David

Henry VIII and His Queens ****
Refreshing review, not just the same rehashings, with a distinctly political view of Henry's marriages. T2

MacManus, Seumas

The Story of the Irish Race: A Popular History of Ireland ****
Devin-Adair Company, 1992; orig. 1921, rev. 1966; 737 pg, index, bibliography w/each chapter
Comprehensive, to say the least, if limited in breadth. T2

Mitchell, R. J., and M.D.R. Leys

A History of London Life ***
Penguin Books, Inc., NY, 1958
Different areas of town in the different eras, but it does concentrate on daily life, trades, street scenes, rather than architecture. T2

Osprey Books

The worst book from Osprey rates three stars, and many are five stars. They are not easily come by, unless you buy them, at $9-13 apiece. If your library has them, you are very lucky! T2

In the Men-At-Arms Series:

Richardson, Albert Edward

The Old Inns of England *****!
B. T. Batsford, Ltd., London, 1952, 6th Ed.
Includes a map of the Principal Coaching Routes. Photos of some survivors, with descriptions out of history of how they were run. T2

Rickert, Edith

The Babees Book: Medieval Manners for the Young
Chatto & Windus, London, 1923
A period view of manners, nicely translated. In most cases, tedious verse is rendered in less maddening prose. Three from 1430's, two each from the 1460's and 1500, and one each from 1446, 1475, 1480,1551, 1557, and 1619. T2

Ridley, Jasper

The Tudor Age ****
Recommended highly, as covering a lot of policy often ignored to concentrate on marital arrangements.

Saaler, Mary

Anne of Cleves ****
Much-needed biography of the fourth wife of Henry VIII, who lived after the divorce happily and independently in England with the title of "the king's sister." T2

Sass, Lorna J.

To the Queen's Taste; Elizabethan Feasts and Recipes Adapted for Modern Cooking *****!
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1976; 135 pg, index, bibliography, glossary
Everyone has to eat, including your characters. This book is very good and authentic. The Olive Pye, with olives (rolls) of veal, was so authentically bitter we couldn't eat it. Omit or reduce the strawberry leaves to make it bearable to the modern palate. The introduction covers not only foods but courses, service, and utensils. Excellent for so small a book. T2

Shakespeare, William

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare *****!
Available in many editions, including CD-ROM. Yes, there's fantasy and anachronism, but it shows the ideal of the age. Read for flavour, dialogue, and mood, rather than detail. Get your insults here. T3

Somerset, Anne

Elizabeth I *****!
St. Martin's Press, 1991; 636 pg, bibliography
If there is one monarch who stands for all Renaissance princes, it is Elizabeth, who had more political twists than any Medici. This detail biography covers her personal life as affected by her political postition better than any other. I considered myself a minor-league if long-term Elizabethan buff, but I had never heard of her one betrothal. Shows the tangled skein of European politics through the lens of England. T2

Ladies-in-Waiting, from the Tudors to the Present Day ****
Knopf, dist. by Random House, NY; 1984; 341 pg, index, bibliography
Discusses the duties and personalities, how appointments were made, kept, and lost in the English court down the centuries. Somerset's opinion of Elizabeth I improved once she did deeper research, so don't set too much on that expressed here. T2

Spurling, ed.

Elinor Fettiplace's Receipt Book *****!
Perhaps the best of the Renaissance recipes done modern books. Fettiplace dates from 1604, and this is not just cookery, but all sorts of advice for the mistress of the house. Gives an excellent window on the English manor house. T2

Stone, Lawrence

Road to Divorce; England 1530-1987 *****!
Oxford University Press, 1990; 459 pg, index
Marriage law as well as the rules of separation and divorce. Fleet marriages, wife-sale, crim-con, contract marriage, clandestine marriage, elopement, and the rest of the snarl. You don't know how unsteady the world could be until you read this trilogy. T2

Broken Lives *****!
Oxford; part of this trilogy on marriage and family

Uncertain Unions *****!
Oxford; ditto

Family, Sex, and Marriage in England, 1500-1800 *****!
London, 1977; think of this as the compact version, with a slightly earlier edge, less emphasis on law change. T2

An Open Elite? England 1540-1880 *****!
Oxford; about the landed classes; with Jeanne C. Fawtier Stone T2

Sugden, John

Sir Francis Drake *****!
Henri Holt & Co., NY, 1990; 353 pg, index, bibliography, glossary
A detail biography of one of the men who invented privateering, and was the first commander to survive circumnavigating the globe, in the course of which he was the first European to touch on what is now Washington State. From commoner to wealthy and world-famous, he cannot be ignored in his period, if your characters go near the shore, or the English or Spanish Courts. T2

Weir, Alison

The Children of Henry VII ****
Ballantine, NY

Winter and Schultz

Elizabethan Costuming *****!
Covering 1550-1580 for England, with the how-to-construct patterns for costumers and re-enactors. T2

Musical Selections

The City Waits

D'Urfey: Pills to Purge Melancholy ****
CD or cassette
Selections from a notorious collection of lewd songs, not for the prudish. D'Urfey entertained at the court of Charles II with these. T3


Lindberg, Jakob, and Paul O'Dette

English Lute Duets ***
CD or cassette
If you absolutely cannot write with the sound of the human voice, this is your best choice for background music. T2

The Musicians of Swanne Alley

In the Streets and Theatres of London; Elizabethan Ballads and Theatre Music ****
Virgin Classics, 1989; CD, VC 7 90789-2; lyrics
Songs run about 1570-1630, by a group dedicated to the instruments and music of this period, rather than being Classicists. T3

New York Ensemble for Early Music

So Quick, So Hot, So Mad: Elizabethan Bawdy Songs ****
This rates a warning for adult content, but you know how popular these were in the taverns! T3

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