Country houses appear with remarkable frequency in the oeuvre of Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea (1661-1720), making her an ideal figure through which to investigate the transformation of early modern country house discourse in the wake of epochal events such as the Civil War, the Restoration, and the Glorious Revolution. She belongs to a pantheon of British women writers of the late Stuart era who have garnered scholarly attention for their keen insights into the political fault-lines of post-Restoration Britain. Critics point to both the range and the aesthetic accomplishment of Finch’s verse, and indeed, generic diversity and emotional complexity make her oeuvre legible through both formal and cultural-historical lenses. This essay explores how Finch’s estate poems exemplify the ways in which country house poetry registers changes in the historical and political landscape; it also argues that ecocritical engagement with these works suggests how scholarship on country house literature might profit from an encounter with a methodology that has largely been absent from the critical conversation.
The Intellectual Culture of the English Country House
“Anne Finch and the Fallen Country House.” The Intellectual Culture of the English Country House. Eds. Matthew Dimmock, Andrew Hadfield, and Margaret Healy. Manchester University Press, 2015, pp. 129-145.
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