The Time Traveller’s Guide to Restoration Britain

Written by Ian Mortimer
Review by Doug Kemp

This is part of the author’s series which has the stated intention of taking the reader back in time to see just what it would be like to live in a particular period of British history. This is at one with the current trend of studying history predominantly from the perspective of the ordinary individual, and not the traditional interplay of elites and the unfolding of wider social movements.

It is an entertaining and informative work. There is some original research and intriguing revelations in the impressive cascade of information about life in 17th-century Britain, although the author mostly depends upon a small range of known accounts, in particular the wonderful Pepys who is ever the treasure-trove of quotidian London life and customs in the 1660s. For anyone familiar with Restoration history, there is still a fair amount to be learnt from this rehashing of material. It is written well in a jaunty and chatty style and is a pleasing, absorbing, highly informative and, for history, an unchallenging read.