Aphra Behn

Jennifer Donald (University of Glasgow)
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The name Aphra Behn has become synonymous with the renewed interest in early modern women's writing: she is heralded as the first professional English writer, an important predecessor to writers such as Anne Finch, Jane Barker, Delarivier Manley and Eliza Haywood, and an early proponent of women's rights. The accusations of scandal, impropriety and lewdness against both Behn's person and her work, which ensured her obscurity throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth century, has ironically served as an attraction to many twentieth-century scholars and students.

Janet Todd's The Secret Life of Aphra Behn (1996) is the most recent biography, although unlike many of her contemporaries Behn has been the subject of a number of biographers, notably Maureen Duffy (1977) and Angeline Goreau (1980).

2074 words

Citation: Donald, Jennifer. "Aphra Behn". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 26 July 2004 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=332, accessed 29 May 2024.]

332 Aphra Behn 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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