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Catching up to Anne Finch

This to the Crown, and blessing of my life,
The much lov'd husband, of a happy wife.
To him, whose constant passion found the art
To win a stubborn, and ungratefull heart;
And to the World, by tend'rest proof discovers
They err, who say that husbands can't be lovers.

Born in 1661 in Hampshire, Anne Finch was lucky in her father, her grandmother, her husband, and her male and female friends. Her talent and her perseverance through political turmoil made her a poet; their support made sure she could write, and would find a publisher. In her poetry she captured the beauty of the countryside, the agonies of depression, the unfair treatment of women, male vanity, and love with lyricism and humour.

Anne was only a few months old when her father died, but in his will he had made certain that his daughters as well as his son would be educated. I like to think of him, clear-eyed and affectionate, one of many British men to love and respect a woman.

His mother brought Anne up, and fought for Anne’s inheritance after her mother died. Anne was educated in the classics, the Bible, French, history, poetry and drama. She began to write poetry.

When she was twenty-three, Anne married Heneage Finch, a soldier and courtier. By her own account she was not keen about marriage or him. That changed. She wrote many love lyrics to her husband, who encouraged and actively supported her writing. Heneage’s support was practical as well as emotional. He began compiling a manuscript of her poems, writing them out by hand. But revolution cut short her writing and his career.


Catching up to Anne Finch continues here.