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How the people of a typical English village lived and died in the worst epidemic in history.

The Black Death remains the greatest disaster to befall humanity, killing about half the population of the planet in the 14th century. John Hatcher recreates everyday medieval life in a parish in Suffolk, from which an exceptional number of documents survive. This enables us to view events through the eyes of its residents, revealing in unique detail what it was like to live and die in these terrifying times.

With scrupulous attention to historical accuracy, John Hatcher describes what the parishioners experienced, what they knew and what they believed. His narrative is peopled with characters developed from the villagers named in the actual town records and a series of dramatic scenes portray how contemporaries must have experienced the momentous events.


a gripping read -- part historical inquiry, part novel
This totally absorbing book presents the best account ever written about the worst event to have ever befallen the British Isles
Simon Winchester
The author is praised as a masterly social historian and the book as colourful as an episode of Midsomer Murders
John Hatcher, a distinguished economic historian, sets out to attempt something new: the describe the plague in terms of one of these hard-hit communities... more than most of the purely historical accounts have given us
Conveys with great effectiveness the intensity of medieval English devotions and their deep preoccupation with the business of dying. Reading this book I was reminded time and again of the Tibetan Book of the Dead
the sense of creeping doom, panic and rampant superstition is conveyed with a novelist's skill
A compelling tale of ordinary people faced with a horror beyond imagining