chapter  4
At Home in the Churchyard: Graves, Localism, and Literary Heritage in the Prose Pastoral
ByPaul Westover
Pages 18

This chapter argues that Francis Mundy's Needwood Forest and Anna Seward's commentary on its contribution to local poetry provide a much-needed context for the series of Lichfield poems that she dedicated to Honora. In fact, Seward's most extensive discussion of Needwood Forest and its relationship to an earlier tradition of British topographical verse occurs in a letter to another popular eighteenth-century provincial figure, Lady Eleanor Butler, who has also figured in discussions of female friendship in the eighteenth century. Mundy's poem engages many of these established narratives of English and British identity; nevertheless, it also introduces new associations that threaten the forest's symbolic coherence. Although each canto begins with a literary or historical figure or event that assures the reader of the forest's connection to familiar forms of English and British identity, the connections and associations raised in this way eventually introduce lacunae into a once-whole narrative.