Aphra Behn

Aphra Behn

b. 1640 d. 1689


A thousand martyrs I have made, all sacrificed to my desire. - Aphra Behn 'A Thousand Martyrs'


About Aphra Behn

Aphra Behn was the first female writer to make her living through her art; she was a significant seventeenth‑century dramatist,The Rover being one of her best‑known plays. Little is known of her early life, but we do know that she was an accomplished poet, worked as a scribe for the King’s Company players, produced many plays, wrote a novel about an enslaved African prince (Oroonoko) and was a spy for the English Crown, operating for a period in the Netherlands.

She caused some scandal, touching as she did on topics of a sexual nature, and, during the late‑nineteenth century, her work was largely dismissed for this reason. Behn claimed that no such scandal would have arisen had such plays been penned by a man. Herpoetic voice is distinctive and strong. She often comments on contemporary events and situations, and writes from the position of both men and women.