The Time Traveller’s Guide to Regency Britain by Ian Mortimer Book Review

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The Time Traveller’s Guide to Regency Britain is the fourth book of its kind to be written by Ian Mortimer. The previous books have been on Medieval England, Elizabethan England and Restoration Britain, there is certainly no need to read the others before reading this one though as they do not lead into each other.

If you have read one of these then you will have an idea on what to expect, if not; the books are written as if you have gone back in time and are actually visiting a certain time period. The reader is addressed as though they are a traveller visiting Regency Britain and the book guides you around Great Britain and Ireland with hints and tips of what to do and see.

There is in-depth information on many locations as well as how you should travel from place to place, where to stay on your journey, regional food and drink and even local dialects. If you are used to a more traditional history book then the format seems a little strange at first and rather casual, but try not to let it put you off; this book and the other Time Traveller’s Guides contain so much great information. In amongst some of the more entertaining aspects of Regency life and funny stories you will find a book jam-packed with information on life-expectancy rates in different areas (an average of around 20 in certain industrial towns!), statistics on population growth, an insight into women’s rights and information on widespread changes in technology, to name just a few. This wealth of facts is sprinkled in amongst great story-telling so that you barely notice how much you have learned until a chapter is finished.

The Regency or Georgian Period which was from roughly 1790-1830 is an often-romanticised period of British history; an era of fun and frivolity, parties and excess before Victorian morality and mass industrialisation. This book does show some of this side of the Regency era; especially in its depictions of King George IV, but we get to also see how the other half lived. With a rapidly growing population which caused inflated food costs and land-enclosures causing the poor to flock to cities. We also glimpse at the lives of the ‘destitute’, the horrors of the workhouse and how rural Highland communities struggled to survive.

This book and the others by Ian Mortimer are very well-researched and beautifully written, I’d recommend this to anyone with an interest in the period or anyone who doesn’t know anything about it, as you certainly will after reading it!

I will say that the book is pretty large, but because it is broken down into many sections you can read little bits when you feel like it. There are some sections which seem like they are going to be a bit boring; I didn’t really want to read the section on the landscape of London for example, but I did and I am glad as it was really eye-opening! This one comes highly recommended and would also make a great Christmas gift.

The Time Traveller’s Guide to Regency Britain by Ian Mortimer is available now in both the UK and the US.

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