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This article is taken from PN Review 26, Volume 8 Number 6, July - August 1982.

Anne Finch Denys Thompson

THE poems are not so much neglected as unknown; neglect presupposes acquaintance and then rejection. But in the case of Anne Finch it is difficult to become acquainted with her work. Most of her small output was published in 1713; an edition of all the poems known at the time came out in the United States in 1903, and since then there have been a couple of volumes of selections, including the one edited by Middleton Murry in 1928. So that anyone wishing to check the respectful references accorded to her by Wordsworth, Leigh Hunt, Edmund Gosse, Edward Dowden and some histories of literature will not find it easy to account for them by reference to what she actually wrote.

She was born Anne Kingsmill-a Hampshire family-in 1661, and by the age of seven had lost both parents and her stepfather. In 1683 she was appointed a maid of honour to the accomplished Italian princess, Mary of Modena, who became James the Second's queen. After a persistent courtship-for she records that 'his constant passion found the art/To win a stubborn and ungrateful heart'-she married Col. Heneage Finch, Captain of Halberdiers and a member of the same royal household, in May 1684, when he was 27 and she 23 (though in the register she described herself as a spinster 'aged about 18 years'). The marriage was childless but happy. Of this his private diary is evidence, as well as her poems, written mostly to her husband or for ...


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