Aphra Behn was a groundbreaking English playwright, poet, novelist, and translator. One of the first women to earn a livable wage by writing, Behn was a significant literary figure during the English Restoration Period. While there is not much information about Behn's early life, and versions vary about her early education, religion, and relationships. She possibly spent time in Surinam, which provided a foundation for her novel Oroonoko, one of the earliest English novels.
On stage, Behn found success as a playwright after the English theaters were reopened following the English Interregnum. After her death, much of her life and work fell into obscurity and she was vilified by other English writers as depraved and unimportant. However, she was rediscovered and praised by many 20th Century authors. Virginia Woolf, in her famous essay "A Room of One's Own," wrote of Behn: "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... Behn proved that money could be made by writing at the sacrifice, perhaps, of certain agreeable qualities; and so by degrees writing became not merely a sign of folly and a distracted mind but was of practical importance."
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