Daily Life in Elizabethan England, 2nd Edition

by Jeffrey L. Forgeng


From the works of Shakespeare to Renaissance Fairs, the world of Elizabethan England remains perennially important in modern culture. But just what did an Elizabethan do with his or her day? What shape did their lives take? How did they relate to the people around them? How did they deal with the daily necessities of food, drink, and sleep?

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Cover image for Daily Life in Elizabethan England

November 2009


Pages 276
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics World History/Culture

This book offers an experiential perspective on the lives of Elizabethans—how they worked, ate, and played—with hands-on examples that include authentic music, recipes, and games of the period.

Daily Life in Elizabethan England: Second Edition offers a fresh look at Elizabethan life from the perspective of the people who actually lived it. With an abundance of updates based on the most current research, this second edition provides an engaging—and sometimes surprising—picture of what it was like to live during this distant time.

Readers will learn, for example, that Elizabethans were diligent recyclers, composting kitchen waste and collecting old rags for papermaking. They will discover that Elizabethans averaged less than 2 inches shorter than their modern British counterparts, and, in a surprising echo of our own age, that many Elizabethan city dwellers relied on carryout meals—albeit because they lacked kitchen facilities. What further sets the book apart is its "hands-on" approach to the past with the inclusion of actual music, games, recipes, and clothing patterns based on primary sources.


  • Multiple primary-source sidebars in each chapter
  • 49 primary-source images, modern reconstructions, and diagrams and patterns for original artifacts


  • Offers a first-person perspective on the past, detailing what late-16th century England was like for the people who actually lived there
  • Includes extensive interactive material, such as sheet music and directions for contemporary dances, rules for games, recipes, and clothing patterns
  • Covers the major realities of daily life often overlooked by other works on the topic—health and hygiene, the shape of the daily routine, and the material facts of living for ordinary people, not just the upper classes
Series Description

Daily Life

What was life really like for ordinary people in other cultures throughout history? How did they raise their children? What did they do for fun? From sexual mores in ancient Egypt to resistance music in modern Latin America, and from the fashion sense of the Mongols to the importance of film in modern India, the world comes alive in the indispensable hands-on volumes of this award-winning series. A truly interdisciplinary resource, the Daily Life series covers arts; religion; food; literature; language; romance; rites of passage and coming of age; marriage customs; social and government structure; sickness and cures; warfare; sports and games; holidays; festivals; and more. With direct ties to the curriculum and supported by the most current research, these authoritative volumes are organized in an accessible narrative chapter format, and supplemented with photos, maps, and other ready reference materials, Daily Life volumes are ideal sources for general readers and students of world history, United States history, social studies, anthropology, religion, literature, arts, and more.

Each volume provides:
  • An exploration of complex eras in history on a level accessible to students and general readers
  • Authoritative coverage stemming from the most current scholarship and recent discoveries
  • A focus on social rather than political history in key curricular areas, providing an in-depth understanding of the nuts and bolts of daily life
  • Interactive, exciting details such as recipes, sheet music, rules for games, song lyrics, and more

Author Info

Jeffrey L. Forgeng is the Paul S. Morgan Curator at the Higgins Armory Museum and adjunct associate professor of history at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA. His works include Daily Life in Chaucer's England and Daily Life in Stuart England.



"This text brings alive the Elizabethan Age for the high school student, providing an understanding of the context in which great historical events occurred and the daily life of the people who made them happen."—ARBAonline

"Forgeng wrote the original volume as a reference for living history. Now a curator at the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts, he revises it in light of the research and writing he has done in the 12 years since, and to conform to the format and style of the series. His topics include society, households and the course of life, cycles of time, material culture, clothing and accouterments, food and drink, and entertainments. A chronology and a glossary are included, along with an appendix on how to throw an Elizabethan living history party."—Reference & Research Book News

"This book is designed for high school nonfiction collections but will be found useful by many college students and adults interested in this time period. High recommended."—Library Media Connection

Look Inside

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