Tudor Tales by Dave Tonge

Dave Tonge is a historian turned professional story-teller, a man used to entertaining adults and children with historical tales at events and at historic sites, and this skill and expertise shines through in his book Tudor Tales. Sometimes, people can be good at public speaking and entertaining audiences live but it then doesn’t work when they translate it into a book format. But, let me assure you, Dave Tonge is good at both!

I took Tudor Tales away with me on a course recently and it was the perfect antidote at the end of a busy and brain-stretching day. It was lovely to read this in bed to wind down. And what was even better for me, a woman with a very full bookcase, is that it’s completely different to my other Tudor history books. It was a true breath of fresh air. It’s also a beautiful looking book. The History Press has done a great job with the cover design. They could have gone down the route of putting some funny picture on it, but I’m glad they didn’t. This is a very classy cover.

Tudor Tales is a blend of history and stories: a blend of entertaining stories from the Tudor period – many of which had me chuckling to myself – and Dave’s explanation of the historical context, the historical sources and historical examples to tie in with the stories. For example, in his introduction to the tale “Of the gentlewoman who had the last word”, Dave explains about slander cases which were brought before the consistory courts and gives real life examples – fascinating!

You’ll be pleased to know that Dave has modernised the stories, changing the spellings and punctuation to make them easier to read and understand today, without losing their historical flavour or magic. Dave writes “Because many of the tales were drawn from oral culture and told aloud in Tudor times, I have attempted to give a feel of the telling in my versions” and I would say that his attempts have been successful. I just hope that the History Press turns this into an audio book with Dave narrating these wonderful tales, that would be perfect!

Tudor Tales also includes a notes section, glossary (so you know what “cozenage” and “mendicant” mean, for example) and a bibliography of primary and secondary sources.


In Tudor times the ‘common sort’ were no different from us, laughing together, mocking each other and sharing bawdy tales in tavern yards, marketplaces and anywhere else that people came together. These stories were later collected in the cheap print of the period, and professional storyteller Dave Tonge has sought them out to assemble here. Within these pages hide smooth-talking tricksters, lusty knaves, wayward youths and stories of the eternal struggle to wear the breeches in the family, for a sometimes coarse but often comic telling of the everyday ups and downs in Tudor life.

Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: The History Press; 1 edition (2 Nov. 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0750962410
ISBN-13: 978-0750962414
Kindle ASIN: B01491XKKM (This is my affiliate link for Amazon.com and I may receive a small payment if you buy the book through this link).

Available from Amazon.com and http://amzn.to/1PbudlC, and your usual bookstore.

Originally posted on March 16, 2016.

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