Over on the London Historians’ Blog there’s a review of The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn by Margaret Willes. In lieu of our own review of the book I thought it worth linking to this one, by Mike Paterson.

'The Curious World…' coverHere’s part of the review:

…this was a remarkable period of firsts. Formalised scientific enquiry through the Royal Society; the introduction of tea, coffee and chocolate; the rise of the coffee houses (it was interesting find out that coffee had taken hold in Oxford some good ten years before London); the craze for imported foreign manufactures – furniture, linen, crockery, etc; shopping malls!

These are wonderfully developed, but for me there are two stand-out chapters. The first – Chapter 6, Pleasure in All Things, is mainly about Pepys. It addresses the Restoration theatre of Kelligrew and Davenant with appearances, of course, by Margaret Hughes (another first) and Nell Gwynn. Pepys’s love of music introduces us to how that was written, performed, consumed and distributed at the time.

The other is the book’s final chapter – The Affection Which We Have to Books – which brings us full circle for both men: their love of books. This is one of the author’s specialities and it shines. Pepys’s library (now at Magdalene College, Cambridge) numbered some 3,000 titles while Evelyn’s was even larger at around 4,000 – both enormous by the standards of the day. … For me, this was one of the most fascinating sections of the book. One among many.

Read the full review at the London Historians’ Blog.

Many thanks to David Attwood for pointing out the article.


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