This book is the first study of the ideal and practice of hospitality in England between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries. In early modern England, hospitality was believed to be a vital social virtue, comparable in significance to the maintenance of honesty or the proper pursuit of honour, and seen as one of the foundations of the moral economy. It was a Christian and moral duty to keep a good house: to be open and generous in entertainment of both rich and
poor, neighbour and stranger. Hospitality is now regarded very differently, and our changed attitudes hamper our approach to the history of this period. Felicity Heal's study
restores the hospitable ideal to its central place in early modern culture. She examines the manner in which it changed between 1400 and 1700, and its relationship to social realities, and demonstrates the significance of the forms and rituals attached to it. Hospitality in Early Modern England is a comprehensive analysis of beliefs and practices relating to hospitality at different social levels and in various settings. Dr Heal examines not only the nobility and gentry, the group on
whom the duty of hospitality was most incumbent, but also the clergy, the urban magistracy and the yeomanry. Her comprehensive investigation of this neglected topic is a major contribution to our understanding
of society and culture in early modern England.
`... excellent cultural history of hospitality ... a cornucopia of fresh information and insights.'
Lee Beier, Times Higher Education Supplement
`... a wealth of vivid and satisfying detail ... a study which combines scholarly rigour, constructive historical imagination and interpretative ambition to provide a signal demonstration that the ideals of the "new history", like those of hospitality, are not mere rhetoric.'
Keith Wrightson, Times Literary Supplement
'A cracking book.'
Tom Jaine, The Guardian
'Hospitality in Early Modern England is a cornucopia of fresh information and insights. It deserves a warm reception.'
Times Higher Education Supplement
`very interesting book ... it is based on extensive research in the printed literature and is enlivened by good case-stories and quotations. Particularly valuable are the insights on the carefully delineated spatial arrangements for hospitality in large households and the difficulties posed by the more restricted space available for entertaining in town.'
'There is a formidable weight of factual ballast, printed and manuscript: household and corporation accounts, correspondence, diaries, local histories, sermons, ethical and theological treatises. The book provides an excellent approach to an aspect of early modern England not previously as systematically explored.'
Mervyn James, EHR Jan.92
'that the twin virtues of this fine book are the rigorous but subtle fashion in which the author handles the idea of hospitality, and the way she utilizes it to explore and illuminate a wide range of other important issues ... well-written, scholarly, and imaginative book'
Peter Borsay, St David's University College, Lampeter, Economic History Review, Aug '91
'This book is a deeply scholarly and meticulously argued analysis of the subject of hospitality in England from the fifteenth to the early eighteenth century.'
Jeremy Boulton, University of Newcastle, Continuity and Change 7 (1) 1992
'The tests of a good historical monograph are its ability to combine originality, conceptual sophistication, historical insight, and scholarly depth. On all these counts, Felicity Heal's new book on hospitality scores highly ... any book as original and inventive as this is bound to raise as many questions as it answers, and Heal must be congratulated for providing a masterful study that will inevitably prove to be a powerful stimulus to future
Tim Harris, Brown University, American Historical Review, December 1991
'This volume is part of the excellent Oxford Studies in Social History series ... has maintained the high standards and rigorous scholarship associated with this series in this book.'
Richard A. Voeltz, Cameron University, History, Summer 1992
'Deftly sifting through a wide range of sources ... she addresses all aspects of hospitality ... The book is a sensitive treatment of a diffuse topic ... perceptive work.'
Linda Pollock, Tulane University, Albion
'a splendid book in the best mode of recent British writing on social history'
Michael Hawkins, University of Sussex, Journal of Modern History, Volume 65, Number 2, June 1993