Dr Mortimer has BA and PhD degrees in history from Exeter University and an MA in archive studies from University College London. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 1998. Ian was awarded the Alexander Prize by the Royal Historical Society for his work on the social history of medicine in 2004. He lives with his wife and three children on the edge of Dartmoor.
For more information about Ian and his work, please visit www.ianmortimer.com
CENTURIES OF CHANGE - BODLEY HEAD - OCTOBER 2014
History's greatest tour guide is back. And he's ringing the changes.
In a contest of change, which century from the past millennium would come up trumps? Imagine the Black Death took on the female vote in a pub brawl, or the Industrial Revolution faced the internet in a medieval joust - whose side would you be on?
In this hugely entertaining book, celebrated historian Ian Mortimer takes us on a whirlwind tour of Western history, pitting one century against another in his quest to measure change. We journey from a time when there was a fair chance of your village being burnt to the ground by invaders, and dried human dung was a recommended cure for cancer, to a world in which explorers sailed into the unknown and civilisations came into conflict with each other on an epic scale.
Here is a story of godly scientists, shrewd farmers, cold-hearted entrepreneurs and strong-minded women - a story of discovery, invention, revolution and cataclysmic shifts in perspective.
Bursting with ideas and underscored by a wry sense of humour, this is a journey into the past like no other. Our understanding of change will never be the same again - and the lessons we learn along the way are profound ones for us all.
TIME TRAVELLER'S GUIDE TO RESTORATION BRITAIN - BODLEY HEAD
BBC2 SERIES: TIME TRAVELLER'S GUIDE TO ELIZABETHAN ENGLAND
Ian Mortimer's three part series, Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England, based on his bestselling book, begins this Friday 31st May at 9pm on BBC2.
Ian Mortimer transports viewers back to Elizabethan England and reveals, in vivid detail, a living, breathing Tudor world. Viewers learn how ordinary Tudor housewives turned plants into medicine, how the middle classes kept themselves clean using linen cloths, how the poor made pottage, how cooks of the rich devised recipes for new ingredients, and how Tudors learned to read and write.
"An impressive call to the imagination." Sunday Times pick of the day
TIME TRAVELLER'S GUIDE TO ELIZABETHAN ENGLAND - VINTAGE - MARCH 2012
We think of Queen Elizabeth I as 'Gloriana': the most powerful English woman in history. We think of her reign (1558-1603) as a golden age of maritime heroes, like Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Richard Grenville and Sir Francis Drake, and of great writers, such as Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare. But what was it actually like to live in Elizabethan England? If you could travel to the past and walk the streets of London in the 1590s, where would you stay? What would you eat? What would you wear? Would you really have a sense of it being a glorious age? And if so, how would that glory sit alongside the vagrants, diseases, violence, sexism and famine of the time?
In this book Ian Mortimer answers the key questions that a prospective traveller to late sixteenth-century England would ask. Applying the groundbreaking approach he pioneered in his bestselling Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England, the Elizabethan world unfolds around the reader.
He shows a society making great discoveries and winning military victories and yet at the same time being troubled by its new-found awareness. It is a country in which life expectancy at birth is in the early thirties, people still starve to death and Catholics are persecuted for their faith. Yet it produces some of the finest writing in the English language and some of the most magnificent architecture, and sees Elizabeth's subjects settle in America and circumnavigate the globe. Welcome to a country that is, in all its contradictions, the very crucible of the modern world.
TIME TRAVELLER'S GUIDE TO ELIZABETHAN ENGLAND: A SENSORY RIDE - MAY 2013
Are we the same as our ancestors, or are we completely different?
This is the question at the heart of this short multi-touch ebook of new and exclusive material to accompany The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabeth England, now a major BBC series. Historian Ian Mortimer takes us on an immersive journey through the five senses of the Elizabethan era – seeing, hearing, smell, taste, feeling - and the sixth: Fear.
Why can so few Elizabethans afford to wear bright red clothing? What are the loudest sounds you might hear in a world devoid of extremely loud noises? Why might you occasionally wash your mouth out with sulphuric acid? And how does it play on the lone traveller’s nerves to be walking under the constant threat of imminent attack on the highway?
Using a selection of unseen clips from the television series, rich imagery and a feast of contemporary music, The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England: A Sensory Ride puts the reader onto the Elizabethan streets and shows that although we might have the same senses as our ancestors, how we experience sensation is another matter altogether.
Praise for THE TIME TRAVELLER'S GUIDE TO ELIZABETHAN ENGLAND:
“Ian Mortimer’s The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England was a surprise bestseller in 2009 ... a lovely, lively book, full of startling details and clearly the work of a thoughtful historian with a tremendous grasp of his period. The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England is just as good, and only suffers by comparison because it does not come as such a surprise ... What he does so well is not only to describe the attitudes the Elizabethans had, but to explain why they had them ... Throughout he makes thought-provoking observations. What emerges is an astonishingly colourful portrait of an astonishingly colourful era, one sophisticated enough to include, and make sense of, all its contradictions. It is as if Mortimer has restored an old painting, stripping it of its cloaking layers of brown varnish to reveal its vitality and life afresh.”
The Telegraph *****
“Ian Mortimer’s intriguing guide ... is studded with gems ... Mortimer’s gift is to turn unburnished material into observational gold ... A delightful book, full of busy research lightly worn, that is as accessible and entertaining a guide as you will find to living in past times.”
“Mortimer has an eye for telling anecdotes, and in these, his book is at its best ... Mortimer has again written a vivid and highly entertaining book. Echoing the view of the social historian Christopher Dyer that to know of past societies is to understand ourselves, he has found an attractive formula with which to present the lives of ordinary people in history, and to bring history to life.”
Thomas Penn, Guardian
“Brilliantly entertaining and uniquely informative ... With Shakespeare on hand to give us extra insight into how Elizabethans saw themselves (and what they – often, to our eyes inexplicably – found funny), and a society playing out its growing sense of self-awareness as it tiptoes towards the modern age, the stage is set for a fresh and funny book that wears its learning lightly.”
“As Mortimer puts it, ‘sometimes the past will inspire you, sometimes it will make you weep’. What it won’t do, thanks to this enthralling book, is leave you unmoved.”
Kathryn Hughes, Mail on Sunday, 5-Star Review
“Mortimer’s slick book bristles with alarming facts, hilarious episodes, glorious pageants and apocalyptic horrors.”
Daily Mail, Book of the Week
“Ian Mortimer he writes history as people want to read it ... He can visit places that no longer stand and make comparisons with the modern day in a way that would be jarringly anachronistic elsewhere ... this is a scholarly and accessible book: Mortimer’s research is wide and deep ... This book helps us imagine what it might be like to live in another age.”
Suzannah Lipscomb, History Today
"Mortimer’s book has something for everyone, from slang terms for the hierarchy of the criminal fraternity to cures for bad breath... His curiosity is boundless and his profound scholarship is leavened by a sense of fun."
“This fascinatingly readable book”