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Publisher's Summary

Contains an exclusive Q&A with the author, Ruth Goodman.

Historian and popular TV presenter Ruth Goodman offers up a history of offensive language, insulting gestures, insolent behaviour, brawling and scandal in the 16th and 17th centuries - with practical tips on just how to horrify the neighbours.

From royalty to peasantry, every age has its bad eggs, those who break all the rules and rub everyone up the wrong way. But their niggling, antisocial and irritating ways tell us about not only what upset people but also what mattered to them, how their society functioned and what kind of world they lived in.

In this brilliantly nitty-gritty exploration of real life in the Tudor and Stuart age, you will discover:

  • How to choose the perfect insult, whether it be draggletail, varlet, flap, saucy fellow, strumpet, ninny-hammer or stinkard
  • Why quoting Shakespeare was very poor form
  • The politics behind men kissing each other on the lips
  • Why flashing the inside of your hat could repulse someone
  • The best way to mock accents, preachers, soldiers and pretty much everything else besides

Ruth Goodman draws upon advice books and manuals, court cases and sermons, drama and imagery to outline bad behaviour from the gauche to the galling, the subtle to the outrageous. It is a celebration of drunkards, scolds, harridans and cross-dressers in a time when calling a man a fool could get someone killed and cursing wasn't just rude - it worked!

©2018 Ruth Goodman (P)2018 Michael O'Mara Books

Critic Reviews

"Ruth is the queen of living history - long may she reign!" (Lucy Worsley)

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  • Mrs Trellis
  • 14-01-19

Joyous!

I have long adored the wonderful Dr Goodman on her many little visits to the past on TV, but much as I wanted to listen to this book I wasn’t sure how she would be at narrating. It’s not an easy skill, and not everyone can do it (as other books on audible prove).
I needn’t have worried. Her joy and enthusiasm shone throughout the book, and listening to her read was like curling up on a comfy sofa with a best friend. The book is delightfully entertaining and utterly fascinating: I hope there are plans for more ‘How to Behave Badly’ guides!

6 people found this helpful

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  • rebecca t.
  • 21-04-20

Queen Ruth at her Best!!!

i honestly just love Ruth Goodman, she is one of a group of educated women I find inspiring and infectious. This book showcases her talents; not just as a writer of history but as a reader and enthusiastic storyteller able to bring the past to life eloquently and flawlessly.
I found myself sounding out insults and living in a world full of debauchery and fun as I realised our medieval counterparts are just like us! Fiery and passionate and motivated by the same angers and frustrations.
I loved this book, it is beautifully delivered!

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  • Ivan Minyawi
  • 16-05-21

Fascinating, really recommended.

Fascinating, really recommended.

one, two, three, four, five, six .... pointless minimum word count for review.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Claire b
  • 15-04-21

Brilliant

Brilliant.. She makes any subject interesting! Definitely worth a listen ❤️👍🏻 10/10 great listen

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  • Anni
  • 27-03-21

so good!

I knew and the opening sentence of this book that I would enjoy it immensely, and I certainly wasn't disappointed!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ragne
  • 08-01-21

Informative and fun

If you can get past the tiresome narration (she sounds kind of like she's reading a children's book), and focus on the words, it's both interesting and fun.
I might try to read the physical book at some point, the narration distracted me so much I didn't focus all the time.

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  • lewis john williams
  • 13-05-20

a little repetitive

Very well researched but the scope was far too narrow for this length of book to retain interest. I ploughed through but struggled at times.

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  • Suzanne H.
  • 17-09-21

Brilliant

Loved it! Ruth Goodman is passionate about her subject and that is reflected in her performance. She also has a lovely speaking voice, which all makes it a very good listen. Very entertaining, and her comparisons between then and now bring everything right up to date. Interested in finding more of her audiobooks.
One thing though, why the repetition of intro and some interview questions right at the end??

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  • Narny
  • 15-09-21

informative and entertaining

Ruth Goodman is so enthusiastic with this topic and it really shows in her reading of the book.

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  • D. WARD
  • 03-07-21

Can’t stand it any more

I think the content of this book would probably have been interesting, but the narration is horrific. The variances in volume and pitch make it unbearable. She goes along for a while speaking in a normal voice, before randomly screeching a part of it in a very jarring way. I cannot stand listening to it any more.

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  • cjj
  • 03-10-19

Love it.

Brilliant in every way, funning, informative and naturally delivered with Ruth's ever engaging enthusiasm.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 18-07-18

love love love so funny and clever

ruth is amazing!! I enjoy all her work. she is so incredibly talented and clever. I couldn't stop listening to this book. her passion is just amazing. keep writing ruth I love all your books.