Bio of Aphra Behn (eh-frah ben)
She was a good girl, a head-prefect of her times. Never put a toe out of line and always slept by 8pm. She laughed, cried and screamed like a normal human being…
She brushed her teeth and hair daily, and was always spotless clean.
Everybody loved her……
Aphra Behn, the ex spy.
Although she was not the first woman to publish her writings, she was the first professional woman writer in England. Belonging to the literary and theatrical society of London, she had a wide acquaintance and was on good terms with some professional authors.
She made her living for almost 20 years as a playwright, translator, poet and novelist.
Her works remained populat well into the mid eighteenth century, after which virtually disappeared from the stage. This is likely due to their frank analyses of sexual mores that seem to imply Behn herself as indelicate and immoral.
Her public profile as a woman writer has many implications, one of which was her association with other “public women” especially actresses, with whom she had professional contacts and for whom she wrote dramatic roles. Actresses were defined as “public women” like prostitutes for using their bodies to earn money. Behn was thus part of the first generation of English women to participate as writers and performers, in the representation of women characters in the theatre.
Doubtlessly, by earning her living in the public world, she was exposed to public criticism for behaviour which was acceptable for only men.
Her birthname was given as Johnson or Amis though searches of baptismal records show no results of them.
Behn faced several plagiarism charges for using earlier plays as sources for her own, but it was a widespread practice in the 17th century theatre. In response to these attacks, Behn frequently points out her themes and dramatic practices are similar to those of male writers.