Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Dodds, Lara

Committee Member

Claggett, Shalyn

Committee Member

Anderson, Thomas

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access



Degree Name

Master of Arts


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of English


Hester Pulter’s (1605-1678) work was discovered in 1996 in the Brotherton Library at the University of Leeds. Pulter composed her poetry in the 1640s-1650s, but her works were not compiled until the 1660s. Overall, her manuscript contains one hundred and twenty poems and emblems in addition to an unfinished prose romance. Pulter recalls her personal life in her poems, and the collection includes her elegiac and lyrical poems on different topics such as politics, religion, childbirth, and the death of her children. In her elegiac poetry, Pulter explores of the experience of childbirth and sickness through a set of conventional Christian ideas about death. However, Pulter’s elegiac poetry also breaks away from Christian conventions, often through the use of astronomical imagery. In this thesis, I argue that Pulter’s grief and consolation strategies sometimes differ from her contemporaries; however, she eventually finds consolation using imagery drawn from her knowledge of the new astronomy, allowing her to reconstruct her identity. Through comparing Pulter with her contemporaries such as George Herber, Katherine Philips, and John Donne, Pulter’s poetry, which has been unstudied until recently, provides an example of a woman writer who is familiar with the seventeenth century poetical conventions; however, she is able to alter them to what is relevant to her condition.