London: Printed by J.B. and sold by Benj. Tooke... 1714. First Edition. Octavo (pages measure 190 x 114). Rebacked to style, with gilt and morocco label to spine; calf boards ruled in blind. Contemporary ownership inscription of Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, Archduke and Earl of Eglintoune on front pastedown, and on the front endpaper in the same hand is a brief biography of Winchelsea that notes "a great number of Lady W's poems remain unpublished." Collates , 390 pg: complete. First Issue, with anonymous full title page (Variant A), E8, G1, and G3 cancels as is typical, and including "Aristomenes: Or, the Royal Shepherd. A Tragedy" with a separate half-title. An exceptionally clean, pleasing copy of a rare book that has not appeared at auction in over a decade and which is currently the only copy known on the market.
Though she had written poetry throughout her youth in the Stuart court, it was only in her final years that Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea began to publish her work. Miscellany Poems was the first and only collection she ever released, initially under the by-line "A Lady," and later, at the encouragement of her husband, under her own name. "Finch's works often express a desire for respect as a female poet, lamenting her difficult position as a woman in the literary establishment and at the court...while writing of political ideology, religious orientation, and aesthetic sensibility, her works also allude to other female authors of the time, such as Aphra Behn and Katherine Phillips. Through her commentary on the mental and spiritual equality of the genders and the importance of women fulfilling their potential...she is regarded as one of the integral female poets of the Restoration" (McGovern). Indeed, over two centuries later, Anne Finch would be one of the inspirations for Virginia Woolf's conceptualization of Shakespeare's Sister -- a female writer finally able to escape the anger of inequality in order to write with the freedom of men. Indeed, Anne's work brims with a passionate sense of injustice on behalf of women: "How are we fallen! fallen by mistaken rules,/ And Education's more than Nature's fools; / Debarred from all improvements of the mind/ And to be dull, expected and designed...Alas! A woman that attempts the pen/ Such a presumptuous creature is esteemed, / The fault can by no virtue be redeemed. They tell us we mistake our sex and way." A rare and important work, by one of England's earliest female poets.
ESTC T94540. Foxon 274. (Item #2269)