How to Behave Badly in Elizabethan England by Ruth Goodman

How to Behave Badly in Elizabethan England by Ruth Goodman

Ruth Goodman comes to the blog today with a book laden with a guide to defying societal norms and niceties in Elizabethan England, encompassing Shakespeare’s play on words, attacks on person and status and proper and improper ways of physically demonstrating disregard for the ‘makers and shakers’ in society. A perfect choice for this era when insults are often far less clever and far more profane. Please read on for my review of

How to Behave Badly in Elizabethan England

I’m sure that you’ve actually heard (or seen) the quote from Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, a Pulitzer Prize winning historian who said “well-behaved women seldom make history”. And yes, it is true – history would be a very dry and proper read were it not for the shock value, cleverness and abject disrespect shown by those who choose to flaunt convention, making their point of disagreement, using behavior that is far removed from the power-broker’s demands for propriety, speech or ‘respect’ shown by deed and act. In fact, Goodman herself states that “for it is those who push against the boundaries of cultural etiquette who most accurately define where the lines are drawn. It is easy to dismiss, for example, the role of bowing in the smooth running of society until you encounter the few who refused to make the gesture’. For it is the rebels and their willful disregard of customs of polite speech, manners and behavior that truly shows us the cracks in the power-brokers control of situations, people and governments.

Full of lively and lovely bits of phrasing, explanations of the rise and demise of words used to insult, the actual deleterious effect that the word arse or even fool had in the day – and how those words, and accompanying gestures, posturing and even refusal of acknowledgment went far further in undermining both the sense of self and the reputation of the besmirched. With a guide to combining insults for greater effect, how to drawings for gestures, and various examples taken from legal proceedings and news items – this is a book for the purely curious (me), to those looking to author stories set in the era. Research is impeccable and Goodman’s writing style could easily become addicting: clear explanations with examples, instances and even some humor added – this is a little gem of a title that if you are planning on an examination of Shakespeare, or simply want to amuse yourself with some new trivia – you’ll want to have it.

How to Behave Badly in Elizabethan England by Ruth Goodman

Title: How to Behave Badly in Elizabethan England
Author: Ruth Goodman
Genre: British, Elizabethan, Non Fiction, Vocabulary and Customs
Published by: Liveright Publishing
ISBN: 1631495119
Published on: 30 October, 2018
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Pages: 320
Rated: five-stars
Get Your Copy: Amazon Barnes&Noble iTunes Kobo IndieBound Google
See this Title on Goodreads

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.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.


About Ruth Goodman

Ruth Goodman is the author of How to Be a Victorian and How to Be a Tudor. An historian of British life, she has presented a number of BBC television series, including Tudor Monastery Farm. She lives in England.


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