Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Elizabeth's London: Everyday Life in Elizabethan London

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

Elizabeth's London: Everyday Life in Elizabethan London

Article excerpt

Elizabeth's London: Everyday Life in Elizabethan London, by Liza Picard. St Martin's, July 2004. $27.95

In Elizabeth's London, Liza Picard attempts to give an account of the "everyday" lives of the men and women in the city during the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603). After a too-brief prologue that summarizes England's history from the War of the Roses to Elizabeth's ascension to the throne, she begins by describing London, the place, delving into the details surrounding the river, sewer system, main streets, architecture, and furniture. The second part of the book is devoted to the people of London and their lives-what they wore and ate; their health and family life; the way they worked, played, and worshipped; what laws governed them.

Picard succeeds in her mission to dig up the obscure and often ignored practical details of life in Elizabethan London, but unfortunately, because the book lacks a larger, unifying vision, the parts fail to cohere into a whole. The presentation of the information requires the reader to link one section with another, one chapter with another; but with no overarching claim to hold them together, the parade of quaint details becomes rather tedious. …

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