Passionate Shepherdess: Aphra Behn, The

The Passionate Shepherdess

Passionate Shepherdess: Aphra Behn, The

The barest facts of the life of Aphra Behn are astonishing in themselves. Born in 1640 of comparatively obscure parentage in Kent, she had, by her mid-twenties, travelled to South America, returned to England, been married and widowed. She was sent by Charles II as a spy to Antwerp and became involved in the complex politics of the Anglo-Dutch War; then, on her return, she was imprisoned for debt. Once out of prison, she was faced with the problem of survival, and the options open to a dowerless but beautiful woman in the 17th century were few. She could marry, she could be kept or she could try to keep herself. Incredibly, it must have seemed to many people, she chose the last and became one of the most successful dramatists of the Restoration theatre, author of one of the most popular and influential novels of the period, Oroonoko, and a poet of such reputation that men at the time were moved to consider seriously the possibility of a ‘female laureate’.

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30 Nov 2013
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About the author

  • Maureen Duffy

    Maureen Duffy

    Maureen Duffy (b. 1933 in Worthing, Sussex) is a notable contemporary British poet, playwright and novelist. After a tough childhood, Duffy took her degree in English from King’s College London. She went on to be a schoolteacher from 1956 to 1961, and edited three editions of a poetry magazine called the sixties. She then turned to writing full-time as a poet and playwright after being commissioned to produce a screenplay by Granada Television. Her first novel, written at the suggestion of a publisher, That's How It Was (1962), was published to great acclaim. Her first openly lesbian novel was The Microcosm (1966), set in the famous lesbian Gateways club in London.

    Titles by Maureen Duffy

    The Erotic World of Faery
    The Microcosm
    The Passionate Shepherdess
    That's How It Was Maureen Duffy