APHRA BEHN

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This week’s BOSS ASS BITCH  is Aphra Behn, and taken, in part, from a HistoryNet article. 

When Aphra Behn sailed to Antwerp in 1666 to spy for King Charles II of England, he refused to pay her for services rendered, and she landed in debtors’ prison. After her release, she eked out a living the only way she knew how: by writing.

For the next 20 years, Behn wrote and performed in plays on the bawdy English stage. Playwriting afforded Behn  some fortune, some fame, and some infamy. Her plays gained notoriety as being too risqué. She became known as the Restoration’s version of Jackie Collins.

Her most famous play, The Rover, is still performed today and has  been remembered  such wonderful lines as, “There is no sinner like a young saint.” But Behn gave us more than staged 17th century sexually provocative themes and neat aphorisms; apart from the myriad of poems she wrote, she also produced what some consider to be the first English novel. 

English literature had been comprised of epic poems: BeowulfSir Gawain, and The Faerie Queen. Behn produced what some consider the first prose narrative—certainly it is one of the earliest English novels—in her groundbreaking work Oroonoko, the tragic story of a slave in Surinam. She is believed to be the first woman to make a living solely as a writer. Two hundred and fifty years later, 

She is famously remembered in Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own: "All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn which is, most scandalously but rather appropriately, in Westminster Abbey, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.”

Clearly, Aphra Behn is Boss Ass Bitch.

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