Ralph Tailor's Summer
A Scrivener, His City and the Plague
224 Pages, 6.12 x 9.25 in, 16 pp. b-w illus.
- Published: Tuesday, 6 Dec 2011
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One man's life in the plague, his record of the calamitous decimation of a city where nearly half the people died, and its sometimes surprising impact on families and communities
The plague outbreak of 1636 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne was one of the most devastating in English history. This hugely moving study looks in detail at its impact on the city through the eyes of a man who stayed as others fled: the scrivener Ralph Tailor.
As a scrivener Tailor was responsible for many of the wills and inventories of his fellow citizens. By listening to and writing down the final wishes of the dying, the young scrivener often became the principal provider of comfort in people’s last hours. Drawing on the rich records left by Tailor during the course of his work along with many other sources, Keith Wrightson vividly reconstructs life in the early modern city during a time of crisis and envisions what such a calamitous decimation of the population must have meant for personal, familial, and social relations.
Shortlisted in the non-fiction category for the 2012 Portico Prize for Literature, as given by the Portico Library and Gallery.~Portico Prize for Literature, The Portico Library and Gallery