Aphra Behn (c. 1640-89) was a witty, risque and committed poet, novelist and one of the most successful dramatists of the Restoration. Her theatrical career began with The Forc'd Marriage, performed in 1670, and she devoted the rest of her life to writing, publishing many poems and at least nineteen plays. She contributed influentially to the development of the early novel with such works as Oroonoko and Love-Letters between a Nobleman and his Sister.
A staunch supporter of the Stuart kings, she equated the mercantile ethos of the newly labelled "Whigs" with the regicide Puritans of the interregnum years, and saw in the parliamentary upheavals of the 1680s a parallel with the Civil War forty years earlier. Her devotion to aristocracy and absolute monarchy, shared by her contemporary, Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, was a response to the commodification and debasement of culture, in her view, but was no doubt also influenced by royal domination of seventeenth-century commercial theatre.
While emphasising the economic nature of her poetry, prose and drama, being 'forced to write for Bread and not ashamed to owne it', Behn also demanded recognition of her status as a female artist, and valued fame 'as much as if had been born a hero...'
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