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Ian Mortimer's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Ian Mortimer recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Ian Mortimer's favorite book recommendations of all time.


A Traveller in Time

Penelope Taberner Cameron is a solitary and a sickly child, a reader and a dreamer. Her mother, indeed, is of the opinion that the girl has grown all too attached to the products of her imagination and decides to send her away from London for a restorative dose of fresh country air. But staying at Thackers, in remote Derbyshire, Penelope is soon caught up in a new mystery, as she finds herself transported at unforeseeable intervals back and forth from modern to Elizabethan times. There she becomes part of a remarkable family that is, Penelope realizes, in terrible danger as they plot to free... more
Recommended by Ian Mortimer, and 1 others.

Ian MortimerIt’s a magical book, it really is. I was so impressed. It is astoundingly well imagined and extraordinarily well researched. It is almost perfect. There are a couple of slight factual errors in there and in terms of accuracy, obviously what I was saying about cruelty you don’t have reflected in the details because it’s a children’s book. You couldn’t possibly reflect the horror things were for... (Source)

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Covering 400 years of Shakespeare scholarship, Schoenbaum's now classic William Shakespeare: A Documentary Life received high acclaim from critics and scholars. The New York Review of Books called it "a masterpiece," and the Guardian labeled it "our best life of Shakespeare."

Making the resources of the world's greatest Shakespeare collections more accessible to all readers, this updated "Compact Life" contains a refined and amplified version of the original text and fifty of the original documents reproduced in smaller format. Schoenbaum has incorporated new material into...
Recommended by Ian Mortimer, and 1 others.

Ian Mortimerif you have got a serious interest in Shakespeare, at some point or other you will imagine to yourself that there ought to be a big book that reproduces all the important documents relating to Shakespeare’s life and all the spurious ones as well, and give an account of everything in chronological order (Source)

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This is an important study of the household affairs of the Willoughby family of Wollaton Hall in Nottingham and Middleton Hall in Warwickshire. Made wealthy by inheritance and coal mining, they built a wonder-house at Wollaton, designed by the architect Robert Smythson. The survival of their archive allows close analysis of their domestic arrangements. less
Recommended by Ian Mortimer, and 1 others.

Ian MortimerI like this book for very similar reasons. There’s a wonderful book by Barbara Harvey, an academic who I think has now retired from Oxford, called Living and Dying in England 1100-1540: The Monastic Experience. In that book she took the accounts of the monks of Westminster and subjected them to minute detail in order to work out how people really lived their lives. Where was their food coming... (Source)

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The Mary Rose, King Henry VIII's flagship, carried a crew of naval officers and sailors, a fighting force of gunners and soldiers, a barber-surgeon, several ship's carpenters and skilled navigators. Of nearly 500 men, fewer than 40 survived the sinking on 19th July 1545. Trapped by netting, or below deck, they stood little chance, and their bodies and belongings went to the bottom of the sea. In 1982, amidst huge publicity, an expert crew of archaeologists and conservators raised the wreck and started a process of research that has now revealed fascinating details of life aboard the... more
Recommended by Ian Mortimer, and 1 others.

Ian MortimerThis is an amazing book! It’s not going to be everybody’s easy read, because it’s a huge book, but it’s incredibly detailed, it’s incredibly precise and it’s full of detail about the people aboard that one ship. It’s such a full time capsule as a result, because so much has been preserved from that one boat. Before the Mast is about what the artefacts say about life aboard the ship. If you want... (Source)

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Alternate Cover for ISBN: 0440178002

A bold English adventurer. An invincible Japanese warlord. A beautiful woman torn between two ways of life. All brought together in an extraordinary saga aflame with passion, conflict, ambition, and the struggle for power.

Here is the world-famous novel of Japan that is the earliest book in James Clavell’s masterly Asian saga. Set in the year 1600, it tells the story of a bold English pilot whose ship was blown ashore in Japan, where he encountered two people who were to change his life: a warlord with his own quest for...

Ian MortimerYes, I was 15, I think, when I read it. I couldn’t believe that no one had ever written other books like it. I remember going to my English master at school and saying “What else is like this? I want to read more books like this!” I can’t remember what he recommended, but I can remember picking them up and thinking they were nothing like Shogun. I was so entranced by the world of the 16th century... (Source)

Edward NortonI devoured [this book]. (Source)

Tradeciety RolfThe best fiction book I've read since "The player of games". Can't put it down :) (Source)

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