Aphra Behn by Mary Beale

Aphra Behn (1640-1689). Portrait by Mary Beale (1632-1699). Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Aphra Behn
Born Aphra Johnson
10 July 1640
Wye, Kent
Died 16 April 1689 (aged 48)
Nationality English
Occupation novelist, dramatist

Aphra Behn (baptized 10 July 1640 - 16 April 1689) was an English poet, playwright, and novelist, one of the earliest English professional female writers. Her writing contributed to the amatory fiction genre of British literature.



Behn was the daughter of a barber named Johnston, but went with a relative whom she called father to Surinam, of which he had been appointed Governor. He, however, died on the voyage, and her childhood and youth were passed there. She became acquainted with the celebrated slave Oronoko, afterwards the hero of one of her novels. Returning to England in 1658 she married Behn, a Dutch merchant, but was a widow at the age of 26. She then became attached to the Court, and was employed as a political spy at Antwerp. Leaving that city she cultivated the friendship of various playwrights, and produced many plays and novels, also poems and pamphlets. The former are extremely gross, and are now happily little known. She was the first English professional authoress. Among her plays are The Forced Marriage, Abdelazer, The Rover, The Debauchee, etc., and her novels include Oronoko and The Nun. The former of these was the first book to bring home to the country a sense of the horrors of slavery, for which let her have credit.[1]


Behn was baptised Ayfara Johnson at Wye Kent, on 10 July 1640. She was the daughter of John Johnson, a barber, and of Amy, his wife.[2]

A relative whom she called her father was nominated by Lord Willoughby to the post of lieutenant-general of Surinam, which was then an English possession. He went out to the West Indies with his whole family when Aphra was still a child. The father died on the outward voyage, but the family settled in the best house in the colony, a charming residence called St. John's Hill, of which the poetess has given a probably overcharged picture, painted from memory, in her novel of Oroonoko.[3]

She became acquainted, as she grew up, with the romantic chieftain Oronooko and with Imoinda his wife. A great deal of nonsense was long afterwards talked in London about this friendship, in which the scandal-mongers would see a love-affair between Aphra and Oroonoko. The latter, to say the truth, is a slightly fabulous personage, although the poetess says that "he was used to call me his "Great Mistress," and my wishes would go a great way with him." [3]

Courtier and spyEdit

England ceded Surinam to the Dutch, and Aphra returned to her native country about 1658. She presently married a city merchant named Behn, a gentleman of Dutch extraction. It appears that through her marriage she gained an entrance to the court, and that she amused Charles II with her sallies and her eloquent descriptions. Her married life, during which she seems to have been wealthy, was brief. Before 1666 she was a widow.[3]

When the Dutch war broke out, Charles II thought her a proper person to be entrusted with secret state business, and she was sent over to Antwerp by the government as a spy. During this stay in the Low Countries she was pestered with attentions from suitors, of whom she has left a very lively account. One of those, in a moment of indiscretion, gave her notice of Cornelius de Witt's intention to send a Dutch fleet up the Thames. Accordingly she communicated the news to london, but her intelligence was ridiculed.[3]

She was doomed to adventure in all that she undertook. Having promised to marry a Dutchman named Van der Aalbert, the lovers separated to meet again in London. But Van der Aalbert was taken with a fever in Amsterdam and died, while Aphra Behn, having set sail from Dunkirk, was wrecked in sight of land, and narrowly escaped drowning. She returned to London, and, as her biographer puts it, she dedicated the remainder of her life to pleasure and poetry.[3]


Behn from this time forth became a professional writer, the earliest female writer who had lived by her pen in England. Her assiduity surpassed that of any of the men, her contemporaries, except Dryden. Her works are extremely numerous. The truth seems to be that she had been left unprovided for at the death of her husband, and that the court basely failed to reward her for her services in Holland. She was driven to her pen, and she attempted to write in a style that should be mistaken for that of a man.[4]

Her earliest attempt was taken from a novel of La Calprenède, a tragedy of The Young King, in verse. She did not find a manager or even a publisher who would take it, and she put it away. She gradually, however, made friends among the playwrights of the day, and particularly with Edward Ravenscroft, with whom there is reason to believe that her relations were very close. He wrote many of her early epilogues for her.[4]

In 1671 she produced at the Duke's Theatre the tragicomedy of the Forc'd Marriage, in which Thomas Otway, a boy from college, unsuccessfully appeared on the stage for the only time in the part of the king. Also in 1671, she brought out and printed a coarse comedy, called The Amourous Prince. It would appear that she had been for some time knocking in vain at the doors of the theatres; it does not seem to be known what induced the management of the Duke's to bring out 2 plays by a new writer within a year.[4]

In 1673 she published the Dutch Lover, a comedy. Her tragedy of Abdelazar, an adaptation of Marlowe's Lust's Dominion, was acted at the Duke's Theatre late in the year 1676, and published in 1677. This play contains the beautiful song, "Love in fantastic triumph sat."[4]

In 1677 she enjoyed a series of dramatic successes. She brought out the Rover, an anonymous comedy. This play took the fancy of the town, was patronised by the Duke of York, and, being supposed to be written by a man, gave rise to great curiosity. She immediately followed it up with the Debauchee, 1677, also anonymous, the worst and least original of her plays, and with the Town Fop, also 1677, in which she makes extraordinary efforts, first, to write as uncleanly as any of her male rivals, and, secondly, to revive the peculiar manner of Ben Jonson, which had quite gone out of fashion. Mrs. Behn never scrupled to borrow, and she took the plot of her next play, Sir Patient Fancy, 1678, from Molière's Malade Imaginaire. She was blamed for this, and for the startling indelicacy of her dialogue, and she tartly responds in an extremely amusing preface to the first edition of this play.[4]

Engaged in a great variety of other literary work, she was silent on the stage until 1681, when she brought out a 2nd part of the Rover, with her name attached to the title-page. The next few years were years of great prosperity to Aphra Behn. Her comedies produced and printed in 1682, the Roundheads and the City Heiress, were very well received by packed tory audiences; Otway wrote a prologue to the latter; the former was rapturously dedicated to the Duke of Grafton. The False Count, 1682, was her next comedy. After this she appealed to the stage but once more during her life with the Lucky Chance, a comedy, and the Emperor of the Moon, a farce, in 1687; both of these pieces were failures.[4]

Last yearsEdit

Behn was encouraged in 1683 to publish her mild little debut poem, the Young King. In 1684 she collected her Poems, the longest of which is a laborious amorous allegory titled "A Voyage to the Isle of Love." She then turned to prose, producing: The Adventures of the Black Lady, a novel, 1684; La Montre, or the Lover's Watch, a sketch of a lover's customary way of spending the 24 hours, in prose, 1686; Lycidus, a novel, 1688; The Lucky Mistake, a novel, 1689.[4]

In 1688 she published A Discovery of New Worlds, from the French of Fontenelle, with a curious Essay on Translation, by herself, prefixed to the version.[4]

Behn was a graceful, comely woman, with brown hair and bright eyes, and was painted so in an existing portrait of her by John Ripley. She is said to have introduced milk punch into England. She deserves our sympathy as a warm-hearted, gifted, and industrious woman, who was forced by circumstance and temperament to win her livelihood in a profession where scandalous writing was at that time obligatory. It is impossible, with what we know regarding her life, to defend her manners as correct or her attitude to the world as delicate. But we may be sure that a woman so witty, so active, and so versatile, was not degraded, though she might be lamentably unconventional. She was the George Sand of the Restoration, the 'chère maítre' to such men as Dryden, Otway, and Southerne, who all honoured her with their friendship.[4]

Her laborious life, however, was now approaching its close. In a beautiful copy of elegiac verses which she contributed to a volume of poems in memory of Edmund Waller in 1688, she speaks of long indisposition and "toils of sickness" which have brought her almost as near to the tomb as Waller is.[4]

She died, in fact, in consequence of want of skill in her physician, on 16 April 1689, and was buried in Poet's Corner, Westminster Abbey, where her name may still be seen inscribed on a slab of black marble. Her tragi-comedy of the 'Widow Ranter' was brought out in 1690 by 'one G. J., her friend,' and finally in 1696 another of her posthumous plays, the 'Younger Brother,' was published by Gildon, with a short memoir prefixed.[4]


Her genius and vivacity were undoubted; her plays are very coarse, but very lively and humorous, while she possessed an indisputable touch of lyric genius. Her prose works are decidedly less meritorious than her dramas and the best of her poems.[4]

Mrs. Behn published a great number of ephemeral pamphlets, besides her once famous novels. Works of hers which have not been hitherto named are: 1. 'The Adventures of the Black Lady,' a novel, 1684. 2. 'La Montre, or the Lover's Watch,' a sketch of a lover's customary way of spending the twenty-four hours, in prose, 1686. 3. 'Lycidus,' a novel, 1688. 4. * The Lucky Mistake,' a novel, 1689. 5. * Aphra Behn published a great number of occasional odes in separate pamphlet form, among which may be mentioned 'A Pindarick on the Death of Charles II,' 1686, and 'A Congratulatory Poem to her most Sacred Majesty [Mary of Modena],' 1688. She joined other eminent hands in publishing a version of 'Ovid's Heroical Epistles' in 1683. Her plays were collected in 1702, her 'Histories and Novels' in 1698, the latter including, besides what have been mentioned above, 'Oroonoko, or the Royal Slave,' which inspired Southerne's well-known tragedy; 'The Fair Jilt,' a story, the scene of which is laid in Antwerp, and recounts experiences in the life of the writer; 'The Nun; 'Agnes de Castro;' and 'The Court of the King of Bantam.' The works of Aphra Behn passed through many editions in the 18th century, the 8th appearing in 1735, and a play of hers, The Rover, long continued to hold the stage in a modified form.[4]

Critical introductionEdit

by Edmund Gosse

Mrs. Behn was the first Englishwoman who made her livelihood by the profession of literature. After a youth of much vicissitude and some not inconsiderable social splendour, she seems to have lost her fortune, and to have turned at the age of twenty-nine to her pen for support. She was a woman of no learning, but of great enthusiasm for scholarship in others, and of unbounded veneration for wit and genius. Wit she herself possessed, and something, too, of genius, though not enough to lift her above the mean standard of a debased and grovelling age.

But while we condemn the laxity of her manners, and exclaim, with Pope, "how loosely does Astræa tread the stage," we must not deny her the praise due to honest work unwearily performed through nearly twenty years of poverty and failing health. Living among men, struggling by the side of Settle and of Shadwell for the dingy honours of the stage, she forgot the dignity of her sex, and wrote like a man. In eighteen years she saw nineteen of her dramas applauded or hissed by the debauched and idle groundlings of the Duke’s Theatre; and forced to write what would please, she wrote in a style that has put a later generation very justly to the blush.

But in power of sustained production she surpassed all her contemporaries except Dryden, since beside this ample list of plays, she published eight novels, some collections of poetry, and various miscellaneous volumes. The bulk of her writings, and the sustained force so considerable a body of literature displays, are more marked than the quality of her style, which is very irregular, uncertain and untutored. She possessed none of that command over her pen which a university training had secured to the best male poets of her time. But she has moments of extraordinary fire and audacity, when her verse throws off its languor, and progresses with harmony and passion.

Her one long poem, "The Voyage to the Isle of Love," which extends to more than two thousand lines, is a sentimental allegory, in a vague and tawdry style, almost wholly without value; her best pieces occur here and there in her plays and among her miscellaneous poems. It is very unfortunate that one who is certainly to be numbered, as far as intellectual capacity goes, in the first rank of English female writers, should have done her best to remove her name from the recollection of posterity by the indelicacy and indiscretion of her language.[5]

Critical reputationEdit

In author Virginia Woolf's reckoning, Behn's total career is more important than any particular work it produced. Woolf wrote: "All women together, ought to let flowers fall upon the grave of Aphra Behn... for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds."[6] V. Sackville-West called Behn "'an inhabitant of Grub Street with the best of them, . . . a phenomenon never seen and . . . furiously resented.' She was, as Felix Shelling said, 'a very gifted woman, compelled to write for bread in an age in which literature . . . catered habitually to the lowest and most depraved of human inclinations. Her success depended upon her ability to write like a man.' . . . She was, as Edmund Gosse remarked, 'the George Sand of the Restoration,' and she lived the Bohemian life in London in the seventeenth century as George Sand lived it in Paris in the nineteenth."[7]

Ironically then, it was after a hiatus in the 19th century (when both the writer and the work were dismissed as indecent) that Behn's fame underwent an extraordinary revival. She dominates cultural-studies discourse as both a topic and a set of texts . Much early criticism emphasized her unusual status as a female writer in a male-dominated literary world; more recent criticism has offered more thorough discussions of her works.[8]

In an age of libertines, Behn undertook a rebellious approach to proclaim and to analyse women's sexual desire, as manifested in her characters and in herself. She has since become a favorite among sexually liberated women, many of bisexual or lesbian orientation, who proclaim her as among their most positive influences.(Citation needed)

Today, the affinities between Behn's work and that of Romantic writers seem more pronounced than the different level of publicly acceptable discussion of sexuality.[9] It has been written that "Behn's writings unveil the homosocial role of male rivalry in stimulating heterosexual desire for women and explores the ways in which cross dressing and masquerade complicate and destabilize gender relations. Behn also analyzes female friendships and, more rarely, lesbianism".[9] A source of speculation has been the identification of Behn with some of her characters. For instance in The Rover, the similarity in names between Behn and the prostitute Angellica Bianca is interesting.

"I, vainly proud of my personal judgement, hang out the Sign of Angellica"

In several volumes of writings by author Janet Todd, Behn's explorations of some of the key issues in Romantic studies, such as the role of incestuous and homosocial bonding in romance, the correlations between racial and gender oppression, female subjectivity, and, more specifically, female political and sexual agency are detailed.[9]

Critic Harold Bloom calls Behn a "fourth-rate playwright" (in comparison, however, to Shakespeare) and notes her resurgent popularity as a case of "dumbing down".[10]


Behn is buried in the east cloister of Westminster Abbey. The inscription on her gravestone reads: ""MRS APHRA BEHN DYED APRIL 16 A.D. 1689. Here lies a Proof that Wit can never be Defence enough against Mortality."[11]

2 of her poems, "Song (Love in fantastic triumph sate)" and "The Libertine", were included in the Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250-1900.[12] [13]

In popular cultureEdit

Behn appears as a fictional character in the Faction Paradox novel Newtons Sleep.

Her exploits as a spy, and the misuse of the intelligence she gathered is alluded to in Patrick O'Brian's novel Desolation Island.

She also appears as a fictional character in volume 4 The Magic Labyrinth and volume 5 Gods of Riverworld of the series Riverworld by science fiction writer Phillip Jose Farmer.

Behn is the subject of Liz Duffy Adams's 2009 play, "Or".[14]



  • Poems upon Several Occasions; with A voyage to the island of love. London: R. Tonson & J. Tonson, 1684.
  • A Pindaric on the Death of Our Late Sovereign with an Ancient Prophecy on His Present Majesty. London:J. Playford for Henry Playford, 1685.
  • A Pindaric Poem on the Happy Coronation of His Most Sacred Majesty James II and His Illustrious Consort Queen Mary. London:J. Playford for Henry Playford, 1685.
  • A Congratulatory Poem to Her Most Sacred Majesty on the Universal Hopes of all Loyal Persons for a Prince of Wales. London:W. Canning, 1688.
  • Lycidus; or The Lover in Fashion: Being an account from Lycidus to Lysander, of his voyage from the Island of Love. From the French. By the Same Author Of the Voyage to the Isle of Love. Together with a Miscellany Of New Poems. By Several Hands (Behn's translation of a work by Paul Tallemant, with poems by Behn & others). London:Joseph Knight & F. Saunders, 1688. (includes the following poems by Behn: "Song. On Occasion"; "On the Honourable Sir Francis Fane, on his Play call'd the Sacrifice"; "To Damon. To inquire of him if he cou'd tell me by the Style, who writ me a Copy of Verses that came to me in an unknown Hand"; "To Alexis in Answer to his Poem against Fruition. Ode"; "To Alexis, On his saying, I lov'd a Man that talk'd much"; "A Pastoral Pindarick. On the Marriage of the Right Honourable the Earle of Dorset and Midlesex, to the Lady Mary Compton"; "On Desire A Pindarick"; "To Amintas, Upon reading the Lives of some of the Romans"; "On the first discovery of falseness in Amintas"; "To the fair Clarinda, who made Love to me, imagin'd more than woman").
  • A Pindaric Poem to the Reverend Dr. Burnet. London: R. Bentley, 1689.
  • Poetical Remains (edited by Charles Gildon), 1698.[4]


  • The Forc'd Marriage, Or The Jealous Bridegroom, A tragi-comedy. London: H.L. & R.B., for James Magnus, 1671.
  • The Amorous Prince; or, The curious husband: A comedy. London: J.M., for Thomas Dring, 1671.
  • The Dutch Lover: A comedy. London: Thomas Dring, 1673.
  • Abdelazer, or The Moor's Revenge: A tragedy. London: J. Magnes & R. Bentley, 1677.
  • The Town-Fopp; or, Sir Timothy Tawdrey: A comedy. London: T.N., for James Magnes & Rich Bentley, 1677.
  • The Debauchee; or, The credulous Cuckold: A comedy. London: John Amery, 1677.
  • The Rover; or, The banish't cavaliers. London: John Amery, 1677.
  • The Counterfeit Bridegroom; or, The defeated widow: A comedy. London: Langley Curtiss, 1677.
  • Sir Patient Fancy: A comedy. London: D. Flesher, for Richard Tonson & Jacob Tonson, 1678.
  • The Feign'd Curtizans; or, A nights intrigue: A comedy. London: Jacob Tonson, 1679.
  • The Revenge: Or, A match In Newgate: A comedy. London: W. Cademan, 1680.
  • The Second Part Of The Rover. London: Jacob Tonson, 1681.
  • A Farce Call'd The False Count; Or, A New Way to play an old game. London: M. Flesher, for Jacob Tonson, 1682.
  • The Roundheads; or, The good old cause: A comedy . London: Printed for D. Brown, T. Benskin & H. Rhodes, 1682.
  • The City-Heiress; or, Sir Timothy Treat-all: A comedy. London: D. Brown, T. Benskin & H. Rhodes, 1682.
  • Prologue to Romulus [single sheet with epilogue on verso] London: Nath. Thompson, 1682).
    • also published in Romulus and Hersilia; or, The Sabine War: A tragedy. London: D. Brown & T. Benskin, 1683.
  • The Young King; or, The mistake. London: D. Brown, T. Benskin & H. Rhodes, 1683.
  • Prologue [to John Fletcher's Valentinian] (altered by John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester) [single sheet]. London: Charles Tebroc, 1684.
  • The Luckey Chance; or An alderman's bargain: A comedy. London: R.H., for W. Canning, 1687.
  • The Emperor of the Moon: A Farce. London: R. Holt, for Joseph Knight & Francis Saunders, 1687.
  • The Younger Brother; or, The amorous jilt: A comedy. London: J. Harris, for R. Baldwin, 1696.
  • The Widdow Ranter; or, The history of Bacon in Virginia: A tragi-comedy. London: James Knapton, 1690.
  • Plays Written by the Late Ingenious Mrs. Behn. (4 volumes), London: M. Poulson, for A. Bettesworth, 1724. Volume I, Volume II, Volume III, Volume IV


  • Love-Letters Between a Noble-Man And his Sister (2 volumes), London: Randal Taylor, 1684, 1687.
  • The Fair Jilt; or, The history of Prince Tarquin and Miranda. London: R. Holt for Will. Canning, 1688.
  • Oroonoko; or, The royal slave: A true history. London: W. Canning, 1688.
  • The History of the Nun; or, The fair vow-breaker. London: A. Baskerville, 1689.
  • The Lucky Mistake: A new novel. London: Printed by R. Bentley, 1689.
  • The Lady's Looking-Glass, to dress herself by; or, The Whole Art of Charming. London: W. Onley for S. Briscoe, 1697.
  • The Novels of Mrs. Aphra Behn (edited by Ernest A. Baker). London: Routledge, 1905: New York: Dutton, 1905.


  • Balthazar de Bonnecorse, La Montre; or, The lover's watch. London: R.H., for W. Canning, 1686.
  • The History of Oracles and the Cheats of the Pagan Priests (Behn's translation of Bernard Le Bovier Fontenelle's French adaptation of A. van Dale's De oraculis ethnicorum). London: 1688.
  • Fontenelle, A Discovery of New Worlds. From the French. Made English ... to which is prefixed a preface, by way of essay on translated prose. London: William Canning, 1688.
  • J.B. de Brilhac, Agnes de Castro; or, The force of generous love; written in French by a Lady of Quality. London: William Canning, 1688.
  • Paul Tallemant, Lycidus: Or The Lover in Fashion. Being an Account from Lycidus to Lysander, of his Voyage from the Island of Love. From the French. By the Same Author Of the Voyage to the Isle of Love. Together with a Miscellany Of New Poems. By Several Hands London: & F. Saunders, 1688.

Collected editionsEdit

  • The Histories And Novels of the Late Ingenious Mrs. Behn: In one volume.... together with the life and memoirs of Mrs. Behn. London: S. Briscoe, 1696.
  • Histories, Novels, and Translations, written by the most ingenious Mrs. Behn: The second volume. London: W.O., for S.Briscoe, 1700.
  • Plays, Histories, and Novels of the Ingenious Mrs. Aphra Behn (edited by John Pearson). (6 volumes), London: Pearson, 1871. Volume V
  • Works (edited by Montague Summers). (6 volumes), London: Heinemann, 1915. Volume I, Volume II, Volume III, Volume IV, Volume V, Volume VI
  • Selected Writings of the Ingenious Mrs. Aphra Behn (edited by Robert Phelps). New York: Grove, 1950.
  • Uncollected Verse (edited by Germaine Greer). Essex, UK: Stump Cross, 1989.
  • Works (edited by Janet Todd). Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press, 1993-.[15]


  • Miscellany, Being A Collection Of Poems By Several Hands; together with Reflections on Morality, Or Seneca Unmasqued (includes 10 poems by Behn). London: J. Hindmarsh, 1685.
  • Miscellany Poems Upon Several Occasions (edited by Charles Gildon, includes 3 poems by Behn). London: Peter Buck, 1692.
  • The Muses Mercury: Or The Monthly Miscellany, published 12 poems by Behn (March 1707-January 1708).

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy the Poetry Foundation.[16]

See alsoEdit

Aphra Behn Poetry - Love Reveng'd

Aphra Behn Poetry - Love Reveng'd

Karen Eterovich recites "Love Arm'd" by Aphra Behn

Karen Eterovich recites "Love Arm'd" by Aphra Behn

Karen Eterovich recites "The Dream" by Aphra Behn-0

Karen Eterovich recites "The Dream" by Aphra Behn-0


Writings based on her lifeEdit

  • Maureen Duffy (1977). The Passionate Shepherdess.  The 1st wholly scholarly new biography of Behn; the 1st to identify Behn's birth name.
  • Angeline Goreau, Reconstructing Aphra: A social biography of Aphra Behn (New York: Dial Press, 1980). ISBN 0-8037-7478-8
  • Angeline Goreau. "Aphra Behn: A scandal to modesty (c. 1640-1689)" in Spender, Dale (ed.) Feminist theorists: Three centuries of key women thinkers. Pantheon 1983, 8-27. ISBN 0-394-53438-7
  • Derek Hughes (2001). The Theatre of Aphra Behn. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-333-76030-1. 
  • Janet Todd (1997). The Secret Life of Aphra Behn. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-2455-5.  a biography concentrating on the political activism of Behn, with new material on her life as a spy.
  • Vita Sackville-West (1927). Aphra Behn - The Incomparable Astrea. Gerald Howe.  A view of Behn more sympathetic and laudatory than Woolf's.
  • Virginia Woolf (1929). A Room of One's Own.  One section deals with Behn, but it is a starting point for the feminist rediscovery of Behn's role.
  • Huntting, Nancy. What Is Triumph in Love? with a consideration of Aphra Behn

Other sourcesEdit

  • PD-icon.svg Gosse, Edmund (1885) Stephen, Leslie ed. Dictionary of National Biography 4 London: Smith, Elder, pp. 129-130  Wikisource, Web, Dec. 13, 2017.
  • Hobby, Elaine. Virtue of necessity: English women's writing 1649-88. University of Michigan 1989
  • Summers, Montague (ed.). Aphra Behn: Works. London 1913
  • Lewcock, Dawn. Aphra Behn studies: More for seeing than hearing: Behn and the use of theatre. Ed. Todd, Janet. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996.
  • Steen, Francis F. The Politics of Love: Propaganda and Structural Learning in Aphra Behn's Love-Letters between a Nobleman and His Sister. Poetics Today 23.1 (2002) 91-122. Project Muse. 19 Nov. 2007.[17]
  • Todd, Janet. The Critical Fortunes of Aphra Behn. Columbia: Camden House, 1998. 69-72.


  1. John William Cousin, "Behn, Aphra (Johnston)," A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature, 1910, 32. Web, Dec. 13, 2017.
  2. "The writer was led to believe, from a note in the handwriting of Lady Winchilsea in a volume which he possesses, that Mrs. Behn was born, not at Canterbury, as has hitherto been stated, but at Wye, in Kent. On application to the vicar of Wye, it appeared that the register contains the baptism of Ayfara, the daughter, and Peter, the son, of John and Amy Johnson, 10 July 1640." Gosse, DNB 129.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Gosse, DNB 129.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 Gosse, DNB 130.
  5. from Edmund W. Gosse, "Critical Introduction: Charles Sackville, Earl of Dorset (1638–1706)," The English Poets: Selections with critical introductions (edited by Thomas Humphry Ward). New York & London: Macmillan, 1880-1918. Web, Feb. 16, 2016.
  6. Woolf, Virginia. A Room of One's Own. 1928, at 65
  7. Entry on Behn in British Authors Before 1800: A Biographical Dictionary Ed. Stanley Kunitz and Howard Haycraft. New York: H.W. Wilson, 1952. 36.
  8. Walters, Margaret. Feminism: A very short introduction. Oxford University 2005 at 24 (ISBN 0-19-280510-X)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Review of Todd's edition of Behn's Works
  10. Bloom, Harold (24 September 2003). "Dumbing down American readers". The Boston Globe. 
  11. Aphra Behn, People, History, Westminster Abbey. Web, July 11, 2016.
  12. "Song (Love in fantastic triumph sate)". Arthur Quiller-Couch, editor, Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250-1900 (Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1919)., Web, May 14, 2012.
  13. "The Libertine". Arthur Quiller-Couch, editor, Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250-1900 (Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1919)., Web, May 14, 2012.
  14. [1] NY Times review 11/09/2009
  15. Search results = au:Aphra Behn, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Mar. 15, 2017.
  16. Aphra Behn 1640-1689, Poetry Foundation, Web, Aug. 6, 2012.
  17. Project MUSE

External linksEdit

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PD-icon.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain, the Dictionary of National Biography (edited by Leslie Stephen). London: Smith, Elder, 1885-1900. Original article is at: Behn, Afra

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