Aphra Behn: Woman in a World of Men

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What’s it all about?

Aphra Behn was famously described as ‘a woman in a world of men’. She worked as a spy for Charles II and then, as an exquisite playwright, poet and translator in Restoration England, she was one of the most influential writers of the late seventeenth century and was the first woman to refer to herself as a professional writer.

The language of her works resonate effortlessly with a contemporary audience. Behn’s plays and poems often speak very plainly about slavery and violence against women, topics which would not have even been considered by her contemporaries, let alone seen as issues to be resolved. She therefore broke down cultural barriers and has been a great role model for female and feminist authors.

Virginia Woolf famously gave her gratitude to Behn in A Room of One’s Own in which she wrote, “All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.”

What will we cover?

In this lesson we will:

  • Explore the history of Behn’s life and works.
  • Become better acquainted with her most famous text: The Rover.
  • Consider and discuss how this text is relevant to today’s society.

Who will be teaching?

Hannah Tyrell profile pictureHannah Tyrell holds a First Classification degree in English Literature and has taught English in many educational settings, specialising in women’s writing and feminist theory.