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David Fletcher


The religious landscape of the late Stuart period in England included some familiar features, but there were forces at work – some old, some new – that sought to reshape this landscape in highly distinctive ways. My research will explore how the drama of the period offers new perspectives on these forces and the religious tensions and conflicts they created. Did the stage simply observe, did it propagandise, did it attack, did it debate, did it provide space for ideas that were unconventional or even dangerous, and did it make an active contribution to the reshaping of the religious landscape and, if so, how? My research will show that it did all these things – in varying ways, to differing degrees, and at different times. This complexity of response reflects the highly complex and volatile nature of religion in the late Stuart period.

As well as a political and religious transformation, the Restoration of 1660 brought important cultural developments. One of the most highly distinctive representations of this new world was Restoration drama. This drama has been extensively examined for its political, social and cultural importance. Religion has been reflected to some extent in this work, but the Restoration stage has not been studied primarily through a religious lens. Also, much has been researched and written about religion in this period, but drama has only featured in a minor way as one of many sources. Religion was one of the most dominant issues of the period and the Restoration stage was one of its most striking cultural representations. My research will bring together for the first time these two fundamental elements of life in the late Stuart period.


'The clergy and marriage in Restoration Comedies', in Religion and life cycles in early modern England, eds. Caroline Bowden, Emily Vine and Tessa Whitehouse (Manchester University Press, October 2021).

Bubble Fever. A new audio-play about the South Sea Bubble based on the works of Daniel Defoe. A collaboration between University of Warwick History Department, Warwick Words, and the Loft Theatre, Leamington Spa. The play, plus an introductory essay, is published by Digital Defoe, at


“The Popish Plot in a play” - Anti-Catholicism on the English stage, 1679-1681. Warwick History Postgraduate Conference 2022.

“A Stage-Sermon, or a Pulpit-Play” - Theatricality, and the liminality between the stage and the pulpit, 1660-1714. Pulpit, Playhouse & Page, University of Sheffield, May 2021.

Quaking Dress - representations of Quakers on the English stage, 1700-1720. English Theatre Culture 1660–1737, Online Symposium, Masaryk University, Brno, April 2021; and Disruptions to authority, 1450-1750 Compliance and challenge in early modern society, Royal Historical Society conference, June 2021.

"Enthusiastical or Fanatical Atheists" The Court Wits and Religious Identity. A Warwick PG Podcast with Hannah Straw and Maria Tauber.

Plots about plots in The Lancashire Witches by Thomas Shadwell. Plots, Cabals, and Conspiracies: the sociability of intrigue in the long eighteenth century, Sorbonne-Universite, January 2020.

The Trial of Queen Caroline - a dramatisation. A collaboration between University of Warwick History Department, Warwick Words, and the Loft Theatre, November 2019. An audio recording is now available free on the Loft Theatre website. Free audio recording

The Ballad of Lady Bessy: a new play about women and power in late 15th century England. Performing Power in the Pre-Modern World, University of Warwick, November 2019.

'Hypocritical Religionaries' remembered in Restoration drama. Bangor Conference on the Restoration, July 2019.

Nick them slab-dash with the ceremony’: The Clergy and Marriage in Restoration Comedy. Religion and the Life Cycle, 1500-1800, Queen Mary University of London, July 2018.

'Strangers and pilgrims on the earth’ - The mobility of nonconformist clergy after the 1662 Great Ejection. ‘Parishes and Migration’, Sixteenth Warwick Symposium on Parish Research, University of Warwick, May 2018.


2016 - present: PhD candidate in History, University of Warwick

2015 - 2016: MA in Religious, Social & Cultural History, University of Warwick

2012 - 2015: Executive Director, National Opera Studio

2004 - 2012: Executive and Finance Director, Rose Theatre, Kingston upon Thames.

2003 - 2021: Trustee of the Young Vic Theatre.

1994 - 2003: Director of Finance and Administration, Royal Shakespeare Company

1982 - 2013: Bachelor of Arts, Open University

David Fletcher