Aphra Behn

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Aphra Behn
Aphra Johnson
BirthplaceHarbledown, Kent
novelist, dramatist

Behn, Aphra

(ăf`rə bān, bēn), 1640–89, first professional female English author. Little is known of her early life, but there is evidence that c.1658 she married a London merchant of Dutch descent named Behn. After the death of her husband, Aphra Behn became an English spy in the Dutch Wars (1665–67), adopting the pseudonym Astrea, under which she later published much of her verse. Her career as a secret agent was unsuccessful, and she returned to England exhausted and penniless, forced even to serve time in debtors' prison. By 1670 her first play had been performed, and by 1677 she gained her much desired fame with the eminently successful production of The Rover. All her plays are noted for their broad, bawdy humor. Despite her success as a playwright, however, her best literary achievement can be found in her novels. The most notable of these is Oroonoko (1688), a heroical love story, the first philosophical novel in English. Aphra Behn was famous for her lifestyle as well as her works; her denial of woman's subservience to man and her high-living, bohemian existence has led critics to describe her as the George Sand of the Restoration and a forerunner of the feminist movement. Her literary reputation declined rapidly in the 18th cent., but Montague Summers's collected edition of her work (6 vol., 1915) revived an interest in her.


See biography by F. M. Link (1968); A. Goreau, Reconstructing Aphra: A Social History of Aphra Behn (1980).

References in periodicals archive ?
The Prostitute and the Playwright in the Comedies of Aphra Behn.
Women writers such as Aphra Behn were largely responsible for the creation of the novel form - yet still academic English departments in this country marginalise them and instead teach 'development of the novel' courses which feature few, or no, female writers.
17th Century writer Aphra Behn was the first female writer to make a living using her own name.
The best expressions of their reciprocal desire occurred in Woolf's Orlando (which Nigel Nicholson has called "the longest love letter in history") and Sackville-West's Aphra Behn.
Aphra Behn, "Translator's Preface," in A Discovery of New Worlds (London, 1688), A5r, A6r.
And by the time of Aphra Behn, critical consensus as to what, exactly, constituted the lyric was being reexamined.
Among the dramatists whose work Meg reads is Aphra Behn, who had more than a dozen of her plays produced in the Restoration Period.
Throughout she analyzes and interprets both well-known authors like Jonathan Swift, Daniel Defoe, and Alexander Pope, and more obscure writers including Aphra Behn, Delariviere Manley, and Bonnell Thornton.
Aphra Behn (1640-1689), it is said, was the first woman to earn her living as a writer, the first woman to insist upon a literary identity of her own and cast aside the claim that she merely scribbled to amuse herself in private hours (Goreau, 1980).
yuzyil Almanya'sindan sonra bakislarini Restorasyon donemine cevirir ve bu donemde de kaybolmus buyuk kadin yazarlarin ve bunlarin metinlerinin bulundugunu, gun yuzune cikabilenlerden en onemlisinin ise Aphra Behn oldugunu belirtir.
Readers who are inspired to trace the creative distortions of this indignant voice in the works of Aphra Behn will have reason to thank Altaba-Artal.