Aphra Behn was the first female writer to make her living through her art; she was a significant seventeenth-century dramatist,The Rover being one of her best-known plays. Little is known of her early life, but we do know that she was an accomplished poet, worked as a scribe for the King’s Company players, produced many plays, wrote a novel about an enslaved African prince (Oroonoko) and was a spy for the English Crown, operating for a period in the Netherlands.

She caused some scandal, touching as she did on topics of a sexual nature, and, during the late-nineteenth century, her work was largely dismissed for this reason. Behn claimed that no such scandal would have arisen had such plays been penned by a man. Herpoetic voice is distinctive and strong. She often comments on contemporary events and situations, and writes from the position of both men and women.

Poems by Aphra Behn

A Thousand Martyrs

Read by Jean Sprackland
A Thousand Martyrs - Aphra Behn - Read by Jean Sprackland

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