Captain Thomas Bowrey was born on the eve of the Restoration making Liza Picard’s Restoration London perfectly targeted to his life. Subtitled From Poverty to Pets, from Medicine to Magic, from Slang to Sex, from Wallpaper to Women’s Rights, the range of the book makes it another invaluable go-to addition to my bookshelf.
The practical details of daily life are so often missing from social history books. Although Liza concentrates on the decade between 1660-1670, that is the period before Thomas left for the East Indies, much of the information about everyday life will have remained relevant following his return home. Whatever I need to know as I write Thomas’ biography, the answer is likely to be found within chapters such as The Household; Money, Poverty and Class; Cooking, Meals, Food and Drink; or Clothes, Jewellery, Cosmetics, Hairdressing, Washing and So On.
Liza’s writing style, sense of humour and eye for detail make her book both entertaining reading and a useful reference book. With a legal background, her preference for use of primary sources ensures that you can have confidence in the information presented. Although focusing on the period of Samuel Pepys’ diary, the copious use of other sources ensures that we see a London that is not restricted to his peculiar view of life.