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Sarah Boote Powell

A PhD candidate and Senior Graduate Teaching Assistant, combining part-time study with family life, I am researching local politics and associated political culture in three Midland Boroughs in the early nineteenth century. After completing an MA (By Research) at Warwick on the conduct and impact of electoral politics in Coventry in the Age of Reform, 1826-41, my interest in ‘low’ politics and its relationship to national parliamentary political discourse and affairs spurred me on to leave a career as a senior leader in secondary education, in order to embark on further research.

Research Overview

My research explores wider political culture, networks of power and influence in local government, and the interrelationship between disparate spheres of political activity and expressions of political engagement in Coventry, Leicester and Northampton in the decade of Reform, 1826-1841. All three places had comparatively large popular electorates due to the freeman franchise and a vibrant tradition of contested parliamentary elections. Beyond constituency politics though, they also had much older traditions with well-established customs and attitudes towards local governance, office-holding and agency, which would render a new exploration and comparison of the politics in these important regional centres most interesting. Ideally, in adopting an innovative approach and methodology, including utilising a range of hitherto largely-ignored source material, it is my ambition to build a more nuanced picture of aspects of these provincial towns’ political culture during a time of unprecedented social, economic and political transformation.

Research Interests
  • Local political history and associated political culture
  • Female 'actors' and their engagement with local politics
  • Urban development and identities
  • Urban elites and networks of influence and power
  • Corruption in local governance
  • Charity and the politics of philanthropy

Boote Powell, S, ‘Coventry Corporation and the Myth of Paternalism: Electoral Politics in Coventry, 1826–1835’, Midland History, 34:1 (2009), pp.77-97.