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Aphra Behn

Aphra Behn lived from 1640 to 1689. After John Dryden, she was the most prolific dramatist of the Restoration, and considered to be the first professional woman writer.

She was born at Wye, England, July 10, 1640, the daughter, it is said, of a barber. As a child, she went out to Dutch Guiana, then an English colony named after the Surinam River, returning to England about 1658. After the death of her husband, in 1666, she was dispatched as a spy to Antwerp by Charles II., and it was she who first warned that monarch of the Dutch Government's intention to send a fleet up the Thames. She died on April 16, 1689, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. It was while in Dutch Guiana that she met Oroonoko, in the circumstances described in the story of the same name. No doubt she has idealised her hero somewhat, but she does not seem to have exaggerated the extraordinary adventures of the young African chief.

Her major works include Oroonoko; or The Royal Slave and The Rover; or The Banish'd Cavaliers.

Some of Aphra Behn's less-known works are available from the Women Writers Project.

External link

The above-mentioned works are available at