‘Crowne of Sonnets Dedicated to Love’

Lady Mary Wroth’s ‘Crowne of Sonnets Dedicated to Love’ is a series of fourteen interlinked poems of fourteen lines each, which formed part of her sonnet sequence Pamphilia to Amphilanthus. The last line of each sonnet forms the first line of the next, with the final poem asking ‘In this strange labyrinth how shall I turn?’, the same question which Wroth uses to open the sequence. The sequence thus makes a complete circle. The ‘crown’ of sonnets draws on both religious and poetic tradition. For example, Wroth’s contemporary, John Donne, composed a similar sequence of Holy Sonnets called ‘La Corona’ which draws on the Roman Catholic tradition in which Mary is crowned and celebrated as the Queen of Heaven (most famously perhaps in El Creco’s 1591 painting). Donne celebrates the poetic crown of laurels that he strives for, but admits that while ‘the end crowne our works’ it is Christ who ‘crown’st our ends’ (John Donne, Poems, with Elegies on the Authors Death, London, 1633, p. 28). Mary Wroth’s ‘Crowne of Sonnets Dedicated to Love’ is less overtly religious in outlook. In Sonnet 13 she dedicates ‘This Crowne, my selfe, and all that I have’ to a ‘Great King of Love’ who could be her lover, Cupid, Christ or a mixture of all these.

You can now view the ‘Crowne of Sonnets Dedicated to Love’ as interpreted by Cinque Ports Scribes at Penshurst Place in Baron’s Hall. 

Members of the Cinque Ports Scribes, under the coordination of Els Van Den Steen (els.vandensteen@hotmail.co.uk), gave each of the sonnets an artistic interpretation to form the crown.

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Participating Calligraphers by Sonnet:

  1. Els Van Den Steen
  2. Colin Lumsden
  3. Colin Lumsden
  4. Julia Baxter
  5. Rosie Griggs
  6. Jan Turner
  7. Mari Bain
  8. Naoko Munro
  9. Steve Eades
  10. Alison Millin
  11. Steve Eades
  12. Frances Liddiard
  13. Rosie Griggs
  14. Els Van Den Steen


Cinque Ports Scribes was formed in 1992 to cater for those who have a practical interest in Calligraphy and the art of Lettering and Illumination.
Membership is open to anyone with an interest in Calligraphy and the Lettering arts, particularly those living in Kent and the South East.
Members receive a quarterly colour newsletter, access to workshops and participation at various social events we hold throughout the year.
They have exhibited at many locations throughout Kent, and in both 2005 and 2017 hosted the Calligraphy and Lettering Arts Society Regional Day.


If you would like to learn more about the group or, indeed, apply for membership, please visit out website: Cinque Ports Scribes