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a Devil ont the Woman damns the Poet -- Aphra Behn Preface to The Lucky Chance Aphra Behn 1640-1689 was not the first woman writer neither was she the only woman writer of her day But Aphra Behn holds the singular distinction of being the first professional woman writer in the English language Thats right ladies -- Aphra Behn was the first woman writer who did it for money It was a natural choice for this young woman a recent spy for the crown and a widow at the age of 26 to turn to selling herself in a manner of speaking in order to surviveMany other women of the period did so but instead of novels and plays they sold something much more fundamental and far more common Single women whether spinsters or widows often allowed themselves to be kept by rich men of the commons and nobility alike Mrs Behn chose not to sell herself but her wits and words and was branded a whore for her efforts Not much is known of her origins Most biographers seem to agree she was born Aphra Johnson in or around 1640 and that she acquired her education and her connections at court through a noble childhood friend for whom her mother acted as a wet-nurse She very likely traveled with her family to Surinam in her early 20s at the age of 26 after having been briefly married to a Mr Behn of which nothing is known she went to Antwerp as a spy for the crown The mission was singularly unsuccessful and she returned to England a debtor very likely serving a short term in prison When she got
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