Anne Finch was an aristocrat acquainted with the most famous poet of the age, Alexander Pope. However, during her lifetime, her poetry was little known and would have remained obscure had not William Wordsworth praised it, particularly her depictions of nature, in an essay included in his Lyrical Ballads (written with Samuel Taylor Coleridge) of 1815. Today, literary academics are again interested in Finch as an example of a neglected female poet who wrote within and against the conventions of contemporary, predominantly male, literary taste.

A spiritual, religious poet, whose work often expresses intense private struggles, Finch seems to have suffered from severe depression. Though she was an aristocrat, her life was certainly not without hardship. In particular, she was a passionate advocate of social justice for women and a staunch, faithful supporter of King James II. After James had been deposed and it was dangerous to be seen to side with him, Finch’s support was unwavering.

Recording commissioned by the Poetry Archive, reproduced here with kind permission of the reader.

Poems by Anne Finch

The hog, the sheep and the goat, carrying to a fair - Anne Finch - Read by Jo Shapcott