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Anne Finch, née Kingsmill, Countess of Winchilsea, was one of the first female English poets to be published. She received an unusually good education for girls of her day. In 1682, she went to court to serve as a maid-of-honor to Mary of Modena, the second wife of James, Duke of York. She made a famously happy marriage with the courtier Sir Heneage Finch (later 5th Earl of Winchilsea), whom she wed in 1684, and wrote several love poems to her husband. Though the couple remained childless, the marriage remained a joy to them both. In Anne's letters, Sir Heneage was called Daphnis and she Ardelia and she fondly wrote, "They err, who say that husbands can't be lovers." The Countess was a friend of Alexander Pope, Elizabeth Singer Rowe, and other writers of the period. Elizabeth Rowe was inspired to write a poem entitled An Epistle to Flavia after reading Anne’s poetry. The only collected edition of the Countess of Winchilsea’s poems was printed in 1713, and included a tragedy -- never performed -- called Aristomenes or the Royal Shepherd, along with An Epilogue to Jane Shore. The Countess left some unpublished manuscripts to friends on her death, and by their permission a number of these were later printed. In the 1717 comedy Three Hours After Marriage, written jointly by Pope with John Arbuthnot and John Gay, Anne Finch is caricatured as the eccentric writer Phoebe Clinket.
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