Aphra Behn

Aphra Behn

About Aphra Behn

Aphra Behn was a british poet, playwright and writer. As one of the first english women to earn her living by her writing, she broke cultural barriers and served as a literary role model for later generations of women authors. Behn was immensely prolific, adapting plays, writing fiction and poetry, and translating works from French and Latin. She caused scandal in some of her chosen subject matter, often alluding to sexual desire. She belonged to a coterie of poets and famous libertines such as John Wilmot, Lord Rochester. She wrote under the pastoral pseudonym Astrea. She is famously remembered 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. Her grave is not included in the Poets' Corner but lies in the East Cloister near the steps to the church.
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She is perhaps best known to modern audiences for her short novel Oroonoko (1688), the tale of an enslaved African prince. It is notable for its exploration of slavery, race, and gender.

Aphra Behn Poems

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