hist-games: Willoughby is out!
Jane & Mark Waks
waks at comcast.net
Sat Dec 13 08:27:21 PST 2003
The (very) long-awaited transcription of Francis Willoughby's Book of
Games is here! I just got my copy (ordered something like a year ago)
from the printers.
The book is expensive ($114), but strongly recommended for anyone
serious about the field. While Willoughby's MS is post-period for the
SCA (1660's), it sheds a lot of light onto the games of early modern
England, and in many cases it's the earliest clear description of games
that are referenced in the 16th century.
The book was clearly intended to be an encyclopaedia, and while it was
unfinished, it's relatively well-organized. Willoughby's descriptions
are much clearer than those of many of his contemporaries, like Cotton.
For example, my Tick-Tack reconstruction is based mainly on Willoughby,
rather than on Cotton's rather cryptic description. I've reconstructed a
number of popular games based on my very old (~7 years) preprint copy of
this book. And frankly, I encourage active discussion of my
reconstructions, now that others can get the book and check my work.
While I'm pretty confident of my stuff, it would be good to get other
insights into this text.
The accompanying materials are also quite valuable. For example, the
glossary in the back includes historical info on all of the listed
games, including all of the early citations of those games. For the SCA
researcher, this is a good quick filter for deciding which games are
more likely to be appropriate for our context. The less common
terminology is spelled out clearly, and the bibliography is extensive.
And frankly, this book is just plain fun -- one of my favorite toys. It
has *so* many good games that it's great to work through. Card games,
board games -- heck, it's even got a description of hurling. (Which, I
must note now that I've actually thought to look at it again, bears
little resemblance to the way the game is played in the SCA.) Now that
I've got this easier-to-work-with edition, I really need to delve back
If you are serious about period games, check it out; IMO, it's one of
the three or four most useful books on the topic. The publisher is
Ashgate, and the book can be ordered from www.ashgate.com...
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