Mastodon The Writing Desk: Book Review: 1000 Tudor People by Melita Thomas

30 March 2024

Book Review: 1000 Tudor People by Melita Thomas

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

The product of years of diligent research, this ambitious title brings the incredibly varied lives (and deaths!) of 1000 Tudor people into a single, accessible volume. Illustrated with historical portraits and a wealth of detail, including specially designed family trees to chart the links between major Tudor figures.

Melita Thomas has created an invaluable reference work that shines a light on the real people who populated the English Tudor period from 1485-1603. Going beyond the familiar figures, this is an impressively comprehensive exploration of the nobles, courtiers, clergymen, soldiers, explorers, and early colonists who all left their mark on this transformative era of English history.

I particularly liked the stories of relatively unknown figures like Jane Dormor, one of Queen Katherine Parr's ladies who was accused of heresy, or Roger Pratt, a sailor on John Cabot's voyages to North America. In her author's note Melita explains that by choosing as man lesser known Tudors with 'quirky' stories as possible she can offer a glimpse of the vibrancy, diversity and colour of Tudor life.  

The book's A-Z format makes it easy to locate biographies of major players like Thomas Cromwell, William Shakespeare, and Walter Raleigh.  At over 450 pages, the book's scope is breathtaking - from power players like Cardinal Wolsey to lower-class yeomen whose living circumstances illustrate the sociology of the age.

Highly recommended for anyone wanting to build a vivid, populated picture of 16th century English life and society in all its fascinating complexity, Melita Thomas' 1000 Tudor People is an indispensable guide which brings the world of the Tudors to life.

Tony Riches

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About the Author

Melita Thomas is the author of non-fiction works The King’s Pearl, and The House of Grey and co-author of the Tudor Times Books of Days series of gift books. She is a doctoral candidate at UCL, researching the social and political networks of Mary I and is the co-founder and chief contributor for Tudor Times, a repository of information about the Tudors and Stewarts 1485 – 16625. In her spare time, Melita enjoys long distance walking. You can find her on and on Twitter @melitathomas92 and @thetudortimes

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