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Dr Sarah Poynting

Honorary Fellow

Email: S dot K dot Poynting at warwick dot ac dot uk
Personal website:

Humanities Building, University Road
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL


I was a part-time tutor at Warwick for nine years, before which I worked as a lecturer at Lady Margaret Hall and Mansfield College, University of Oxford; as a research fellow at Keele University; and as a lecturer in Renaissance Studies at Roehampton University. At Warwick I taught on the Epic Tradition, Medieval to Renaissance, Shakespeare, and Seventeenth-Century Literature modules, as well as supervising an MA dissertation on James Shirley.

Research interests

I am working on a three-volume edition, The Writings of Charles I, for Oxford University Press, for which I have collected manuscript material in Rome, Paris, Copenhagen, the Netherlands and Ireland, as well as many British archives. The first volume is thematically organised, with chapters covering Charles’s early life, negotiations concerning his marriage, the politics and culture of the court, religion, local government and foreign relations. Separate sections devoted to Scotland and Ireland support recent developments in the study of the early modern period, which have shown an increasing recognition of the unsatisfactory nature of the previous, largely Anglocentric, focus of Caroline and especially Civil War history. Volumes II and III, ‘The Civil Wars’, begin from 1637 with the outbreak of the first Bishops’ War. These two volumes are arranged chronologically, with the wars themselves as their inescapable centre. While Charles was also engaged with mundane matters during these years, it is important to show his concerns as embedded within the overarching context of the changes to his political existence.

In January 2007 considerable interest was generated by my article ‘Deciphering the King: Charles I’s Letters to Jane Whorwood’ (Seventeenth Century (2006)), which focuses on a redeciphering of a crucial word in one of his two surviving letters to Whorwood. This was the subject of a feature article in The Times of 20 January, as well as of the paper’s third leader of the day. Subsequently the story was reported in the press in Sweden, Hungary and New Zealand, and I was interviewed on 6 February on BBC Radio Scotland’s arts and culture programme, Radio Café. The article has also been cited frequently in scholarly articles and books.

My doctoral thesis was an edition of Walter Montagu's The Shepherds’ Paradise, written to be performed at court in 1633 by a female cast consisting of Henrietta Maria and twelve of her ladies, the first known English play to be acted by women in front of even a court audience (it gave rise to William Prynne's famous index entry 'Women actors: Notorious whores'). I argued that The Shepherds’ Paradise is anti-Platonic and empiricist in its outlook, and that it takes, though not consistently, an unexpectedly sceptical line on key aspects of Caroline royalist ideology.

Selected publications

Sarah Poynting (ed), The Shepherds’ Paradise, by Walter Montagu. Malone Society Reprint, vol. 159. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998); (a near-diplomatic transcription, with introduction, of the considerably shortened and revised text contained in Folger Shakespeare Library MS Vb 203, which was probably the version actually performed).

Sarah Poynting, ‘“In the name of all the sisters”: Henrietta Maria’s notorious whores’, in Clare McManus (ed), Women and Culture at the Courts of the Stuart Queens (London: Palgrave, 2003), pp. 163-85.

‘“From his Matie to me with his awin hand”: the King’s correspondence during the period of personal rule’, in Ian Atherton and Julie Sanders (eds), The 1630s: Interdisciplinary Essays on Culture and Politics in the Caroline Era (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2006), pp. 74-91.

‘Deciphering the King: Charles I’s Letters to Jane Whorwood’, Seventeenth Century, 21 (2006), 128-40.

‘“I doe desire to be rightly vnderstood”: rhetorical strategies in the letters of Charles I’, in Jason McElligott and David L. Smith (eds), Royalists and Royalism during the English Civil Wars (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 136-54.

‘“The rare and excellent partes of Mr. Walter Montague”: Henrietta Maria and her playwright’, in Erin Griffey (ed), Henrietta Maria: Piety, Politics and Patronage (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008).


BA Hons. English and Drama, Westfield College, University of London.

MPhil, Shakespeare and Contemporary Dramatists, Linacre College, University of Oxford.

DPhil, University of Oxford.