Anne Finch Analysis

Other literary forms

(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

On the rare occasions when Anne Finch worked in other genres, she wrote in verse, such as in her two plays, the unproduced closet dramas The Triumphs of Love and Innocence (pb. 1902) and Aristomenes: Or, The Royal Shepherd (pb. 1713). The former is a tragicomedy, the latter a tragedy. She also wrote an epilogue to Nicholas Rowe’s 1714 The Tragedy of Jane Shore, which was spoken by the actress playing the title role.


(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

When Anne Finch’s Miscellany Poems, on Several Occasions appeared in 1713 (“Written by a Lady,” according to the title page of the first printing, though later printings gave her name), it was only the third volume of poetry by a woman to have been published in the eighteenth century, and she was one of the first women to devote a lifetime to writing poetry. Contemporary social strictures and prejudices notwithstanding, Finch was acknowledged by London’s male literary circles, many of her poems were included (albeit usually anonymously) in leading publications, and Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift celebrated her in commendatory verses.

During her long career, she wrote in a variety of poetic forms, including elegies, pastorals, satires, verse epistles, beast fables, ballads, and occasional poetry, and though her output was mainly in the Restoration and Augustan neoclassic traditions, the poems often transcended prevailing conventions of subject, form, and theme. In her nature poems, for example, she anticipated the Romantic movement, and in many works she introduced a feminine sensibility, giving voice to a socially and educationally marginalized gender and presenting, perhaps for the first time, portraits of love and marriage from a woman’s perspective.


(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Brower, Reuben A. “Lady Winchelsea and the Poetic Tradition of the Seventeenth Century.” Studies in Philology 42 (1945): 61-80. In this influential article, Brower places Finch’s poetry firmly in the eighteenth century tradition and distances her from the Romantics. He considers her nature poems as products of her early years and demonstrates their similarity to seventeenth century Metaphysical poetry.

Hinnant, Charles H. The Poetry of Anne Finch: An Essay in Interpretation. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1994. In this first comprehensive study of Finch’s poetry, Hinnant examines her work in relation to that of Augustan contemporaries and nineteenth century Romantics, and also considers her as an early feminist writer. He provides detailed explications of many poems, usefully balancing his interpretations with those of others.

McGovern, Barbara. Anne Finch and Her Poetry: A Critical Biography. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1992. This first full-length life of Finch focuses on her “historical place” and “displacement” (as McGovern puts it) among her contemporaries, “and particularly on the methods by which she developed a poetic identity for her own artistic liberation.” Of value is an appendix of twelve uncollected poems from a manuscript at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.


(The entire section is 457 words.)