Aphra Behn

Have you ever heard of Aphra Behn? Well, hear is a brief story about her. Aphra is an English novelist and dramatist. She was born Aphra Johnson in 1640 in Wye, Kent in England. She was the second child of Elizabeth Denham and John Johnson, a barber. She spent some time growing up in the South American country of Surinam. She learned to love history and she became familiar with tales of African royalty. When she came back to England she married Mr. Behn, a London merchant, in 1664. Mr. Behn died in 1665.

Before she became a professional writer, Aphra Behn was a professional spy for England, code-named Astrea or Agent 160. Aphra worked for Charles II in secret in the Netherlands during the Dutch war. She discovered the Dutch plan to sail up the Thames River and burn the English ships in the harbor. She was disappointed when her information was ignored and she returned to England. She was not paid for her work and was jailed briefly for debt. She began to write. She was probably the first professional female writer in England and for the first twenty years of her career, she was the only female playwright. Her first play was The Forced Marriage (1670). She wrote many plays, poems, and books. He most famous is Oroonoko, the History of the Royal Slave. Mrs. Behn died on April 16, 1689 and was buried in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey.

Image courtesy of San Antonio College LitWeb

By Noel & Geena, fourth grade, 2003

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