A Feminist a Day: Aphra Behn

Who is she?

aphraAphra Behn was a British playwright, poet and fiction writer in the mid 1600s and is recognised as the first English women to earn a living from writing.

Aphra was a spy for King Charles II before becoming a writer, and she became part of a group of writers and libertines.

Her novel Oroonoko, published in 1688, is the story of an enslaved African prince, and is considered an important work in the development of the English novel. She was known as being unusually independent for a woman of her time.

She is mentioned in Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own – “all women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn which is, most scandalously but rather appropriately, in Westminster Abbey, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.”

Why should we thank her?

Aphra’s breakthrough as a female writer would inspire and influence women writers who followed her.

Best quote

“That perfect tranquillity of life, which is nowhere to be found but in retreat, a faithful friend and a good library.”

A Feminist a Day: Aphra Behn

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