Aphra Benn is known as the first British woman to earn her living from writing.
She has the reputation of being the role model for all future women writers and is recognized by her burial in Westminster Abbey.
Her early years are lost in obscurity but she is reputed to have been employed in Antwerp as a spy by the King, Charles II.
She wrote under the pseudonym of Astrea, the Greek goddess of innocence and purity.
Aphra Benn is best known to modern audiences for her short novel, Oroonoko published in 1688, the tale of an enslaved African prince which explores the issues of slavery, race and gender.
She was a prolific writer of plays, poetry and fiction and she also translated many texts from French into English.
In recent years she has become recognised as an important playwright of the Restoration period.
Her reputation was mocked by contemporaries because of her bawdy sense of humour and masculine writing style.
She is reputed to have continued writing right up to the end of her life although beset by ill health and poverty.
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