Behn states that Behn was born to Bartholomew Johnson, a barber, and Elizabeth Denham, a wet-nurse. He was said to die on the journey, with his wife and children spending some months in the country, though there is no evidence of this. There is little evidence that this was the case, and none of her contemporaries acknowledge any aristocratic status. Writer Germaine Greer has called Behn "a palimpsest ; she has scratched herself out," and biographer Janet Todd noted that Behn "has a lethal combination of obscurity, secrecy and staginess which makes her an uneasy fit for any narrative, speculative or factual.
See also Oroonoko Criticism. Willing to endure seventeenth-century society's disapproval of women writing for pay, Behn became the first female to earn her living solely as an author, openly competing for recognition with the male writers who comprised the English literary establishment.
Her works, like the literary endeavors of her male contemporaries, catered to the libertine tastes of King Charles II and his supporters through social and political satire as well as plots involving amorous intrigues and sexual promiscuity.
Behn's verse, which tends to be less coarse than her dramas, often focuses either on lovers or the historical events of the era. Her most studied poems challenge social mores by freely discussing female sexual desire and questioning gender roles.
Biographical Information Most critical studies of Behn speculate about her early life, but Behn's birthplace and date of birth, as well as the identity of her parents, have never been conclusively established.
However, it is generally agreed that she and her family sailed to Surinam in South America, most likely inand that her father, who had been appointed lieutenant-governor there, died en route. Behn lived in Surinam for several months before the Dutch takeover, and her impressions of the country were later recorded in her novel Oroonoko; or, The Royal Slave.
It is speculated that after returning to England in she married a man of Dutch descent. At this time Behn seems to have been wealthy, popular at the court of Charles II, and well known for her charm and wit.
However, her husband died shortly after their marriage and, for reasons unknown, she was left an impoverished widow. It is only after this point in her life that substantial information about Behn has been documented.
Though the mission provided the crown with valuable information, Behn was not remunerated for her espionage efforts. She returned to England in poverty and spent a brief time in debtor's prison before ultimately deciding to, as she said, "write for bread.
Thus, Behn's decision to join London's Grub Street hacks was both bold and unprecedented.
The popularity of her first play, The Forced Marriage ; or, The Jealous Bridegroom, proved that a woman could successfully write the same bawdy material that the male playwrights of the era were producing. Eventually, however, Behn's work was attacked as immoral by many of her contemporaries.
Undaunted by the criticism, she continued to write and spent most of her literary career defending her works against charges of indecency; Behn claimed that critics unfairly singled her out because of her gender.
Behn lived an impoverished life, and her material hardships contributed to a prolonged illness in her later years.
After her death, she was honored with a burial in Westminster Abbey. Major Works Much of Behn's verse appears in her plays.
These poems are generally valued for their musicality and their contribution to the dramas in which they are contained, but have attracted little attention as independent literary pieces. Rogal has stated that they "reflect [Behn's] ability to manipulate verse as a reinforcement for dramatic theme and setting," and Vita Sackville-West downplayed the consideration due these lyrics by characterizing them as songs rather than poetry.
Other poems by Behn were written in honor of noted figures or for occasions such as coronations, the birth of a child in the royal family, the death of famous individuals, and other events that she deemed worth celebrating in verse.
Her most discussed poems, however, depart from literary tradition by treating the subject of romantic love graphically and from a female perspective. In these poems and others, Behn challenged the orthodoxies of her day in print, just as her "writing for bread" challenged them in practice.
Critical Reception Though Behn enjoyed some popular success during her lifetime and had early supporters, she was dogged throughout her career with charges of lewdness. Her reputation was revived in the twentieth century by Virginia Woolf, who wrote in A Room of One's Own"All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn … for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds"; since then Behn has received much attention from feminist critics, who note her subversion of the patriarchal code in her life and her writing and praise her advocation of freedom for women in matters of love, marriage, and sexual and artistic expression.Aphra Behn’s achievement as a novelist should be measured principally in terms of the modest gains made by the novel form in England during the seventeenth century.
This essay is the last of four distilled from a lecture series on Aphra Behn given by Dr. Abigail Williams of the University of Oxford and adapted for the Great Writers Inspire project by Kate O'Connor.
Aphra Behn Essay Examples. A Literary Analysis of Oroonoko by Aphra Behn. 1, words. 4 pages.
A Literary Analysis of Oroonoko by Aphra Behn. words. A Literary Analysis of the Preface to the Lucky Chance by Aphra Behn. 1, words. 3 pages. The Sexuality in Rochester's a Song and Behn's Amyntas Led Me. In Aphra Behn was born Eaffrey Johnson of Canterbury, the daughter of a barber.
Behn was likely raised Catholic. She was a staunch Tory and Royalist, and may already have been working as a spy for Charles II when she visited Surinam, an English colony, in 7 days ago · Oroonoko is a cultural equivalent to the big bang and shook the 17th-century literary world, inspiring the abolitionist movement, feminist literature and the modern novel.
Aphra Behn, was also. (Preface to The Lucky Chance). Aphra Behn () achieved both fame and notoriety in her own time, enjoying considerable success for her plays and for her short novel Oroonoko, the story of a noble slave who loves a princess.