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Summary

Contains an exclusive Q&A with the author, Ruth Goodman.

Historian and popular TV presenter Ruth Goodman offers up a history of offensive language, insulting gestures, insolent behaviour, brawling and scandal in the 16th and 17th centuries - with practical tips on just how to horrify the neighbours.

From royalty to peasantry, every age has its bad eggs, those who break all the rules and rub everyone up the wrong way. But their niggling, antisocial and irritating ways tell us about not only what upset people but also what mattered to them, how their society functioned and what kind of world they lived in.

In this brilliantly nitty-gritty exploration of real life in the Tudor and Stuart age, you will discover:

  • How to choose the perfect insult, whether it be draggletail, varlet, flap, saucy fellow, strumpet, ninny-hammer or stinkard
  • Why quoting Shakespeare was very poor form
  • The politics behind men kissing each other on the lips
  • Why flashing the inside of your hat could repulse someone
  • The best way to mock accents, preachers, soldiers and pretty much everything else besides

Ruth Goodman draws upon advice books and manuals, court cases and sermons, drama and imagery to outline bad behaviour from the gauche to the galling, the subtle to the outrageous. It is a celebration of drunkards, scolds, harridans and cross-dressers in a time when calling a man a fool could get someone killed and cursing wasn't just rude - it worked!

©2018 Ruth Goodman (P)2018 Michael O'Mara Books

Critic reviews

"Ruth is the queen of living history - long may she reign!" (Lucy Worsley)

What listeners say about How to Behave Badly in Renaissance Britain

Average customer ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fabulous listen, a beautifully described book

I felt like I was bound to enjoy this book by Ruth Goodman, mainly because it was not only written by Ruth, but she also narrates it so very well. I have enjoyed another of Ruth's books, but though narrated well, I wanted to hear Ruth's voice tell this story of her Renaissance Britain. It is her passionate interest that comes through, and it is not read in the over-excited-larger-than-life voice that so much of today is described as - it is good to listen to a walk through everyday life, as it is, then and now, and has it's ups and downs. Ruth has educated me in so many periods of social history and this is no exception - always new things to discover and learn about.

6 people found this helpful

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Joyous!

I have long adored the wonderful Dr Goodman on her many little visits to the past on TV, but much as I wanted to listen to this book I wasn’t sure how she would be at narrating. It’s not an easy skill, and not everyone can do it (as other books on audible prove).
I needn’t have worried. Her joy and enthusiasm shone throughout the book, and listening to her read was like curling up on a comfy sofa with a best friend. The book is delightfully entertaining and utterly fascinating: I hope there are plans for more ‘How to Behave Badly’ guides!

4 people found this helpful

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Queen Ruth at her Best!!!

i honestly just love Ruth Goodman, she is one of a group of educated women I find inspiring and infectious. This book showcases her talents; not just as a writer of history but as a reader and enthusiastic storyteller able to bring the past to life eloquently and flawlessly.
I found myself sounding out insults and living in a world full of debauchery and fun as I realised our medieval counterparts are just like us! Fiery and passionate and motivated by the same angers and frustrations.
I loved this book, it is beautifully delivered!

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Informative and fun

If you can get past the tiresome narration (she sounds kind of like she's reading a children's book), and focus on the words, it's both interesting and fun.
I might try to read the physical book at some point, the narration distracted me so much I didn't focus all the time.

1 person found this helpful

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a little repetitive

Very well researched but the scope was far too narrow for this length of book to retain interest. I ploughed through but struggled at times.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant

Brilliant.. She makes any subject interesting! Definitely worth a listen ❤️👍🏻 10/10 great listen

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so good!

I knew and the opening sentence of this book that I would enjoy it immensely, and I certainly wasn't disappointed!

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fascinating and funny

I found this fascinating and so many little insights into everyday lives and languages! Made me laugh aloud in places. Very enjoyable

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for those who wish to get the most out of ....

historical fiction, over the years I've see Ruth in many tv programmes and her knowledge has always impressed me. I started listening to the the Outlander books and came across this in the other titles you may like list and loved it, I listen as I work and it was great, for once they got it right 100%.

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A weak stew of discarded tops and tails

Take your pick - pot luck, pot pourri, stew, casserole, cassoulet, dog's dinner!
A blunderbuss of scrag ends.
Be wary of repeats.