Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Dangerous Occupation 

My friends, reshelving books can be a dangerous occupation. I've been opening boxes of needlework books and getting them back on shelves again. Some of the boxes were not opened after my relocation from California to Tennessee so it is a pleasure coming upon books I've not seen for three years.

One does tend to get carried away (lost) in page turning however. I'm enjoying my copy of Elizabethan Households by Lena Cowen Orlin for the Folger Library.

In any sort of research the seeker of an understanding of a society always pursues the primary documentary sources and this anthology consists of period documents to help us understand how Elizabethan/Stuart society worked.

The title is a bit of a misnomer as some of the documents presented actually fall within the reign of the Stuarts but this is not the difficulty it might seem. One doesn't turn on a dime or a pence and start using new things in new ways on a broad basis because of the death of a monarch or the change of a political leader. Dinner is dinner and eaten off the same old plates. There were changes of course and some of them are very revealing. The requirement of inventories in probate and poundage taxes for import and export give us long lists of articles (including needlework tools, textiles and costume items) that were in common use in the late 16th/early 17th century in England (and to some extent the continent.)

A good read and highly recommended.

Elizabethan Households, An Anthology
Lena Cowen Orlin
The Folger Shakespeare Library, 1995
ISBN 0-295-97464-8

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