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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)

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  • Jude
  • Australia
  • 07-08-18

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.