Rediscovering my Enthusiasm for Behn … Aphra Behn

After finishing a bunch of stories for the Clarion West challenge, I’ve returned to working on revisions of my novel Chameleon in a Mirror, a time travel romp revolving around my literary idol Aphra Behn. While the novel needs a lot more work than I had hoped, unfortunately, I’m having a great time returning to the English Restoration and the figure of Aphra. For those who are unfamiliar with her, she was the first professional woman writer in the English language. A contemporary of John Dryden, she made her living writing plays for the Duke’s Theatre, the rival company to that of Dryden. If that wasn’t unusual enough for a woman in the seventeenth century, she was also worked for the British government as a spy in the Netherlands, and spent time in Surinam, South America, where her father was to have been appointed governor — if he hadn’t died on the voyage. She also wrote the first epistolary novel in English, Love Letters Between and Nobleman and his Sister, decades before Samuel Richardson supposedly founded the genre.

Now if that isn’t enough to make a gal enthusiastic, I don’t know what is.

Didn’t get as much done this week as I had intended, since for the last couple of days I’ve been suffering from a summer cold with a slight fever. 50 pages of revisions on Chameleon in a Mirror and one more collab story finished for a deadline. Once my foggy brain clears up, I need to get back to some marketing, ebook and web page work in addition to the novel revisions.

12 thoughts on “Rediscovering my Enthusiasm for Behn … Aphra Behn”

  1. Sounds like you’ve had a busy and productive week, all things considered.

    The story of Aphra Behn sounds fascinating. I’d never heard of her but I’ll be sure to look her up and do a bit of reading. I find it sad how history has shoved the achievements of so many great women to the background in order to protect antiquated stereotypes.

    Keep up the great work Ruth!

    1. Thanks, Gene! I think as the revisions progress, I’ll post more details about Aphra Behn’s life and work, since she has been written so effectively out of history. She deserves a little more attention! 🙂

  2. Thank you for telling us about Aphra Behn. This was new info for me, and I intend to follow up. You have me intrigued.

    I hope you feel better soon.

    All the best…

  3. I am finding the enthusiasm return for my main character, too, though she isn’t a historical figure. I have just been away from the novel for the school year, and have finally had time to dive into the re-write my novel needs. I hear in your post the same kind of joy that I feel being back with these people that appeared from the ether to make a home in my head while I try to get them out on paper. It’s also really useful to get a peak into your writing life to see that mine’s not so strange, and I CAN do this. Thanks!

    1. Yup, that’s exactly it, Amelia, joy at being back with these people, historical and fictitious. Good luck with your rewrites!

  4. Aphra Behn! I love her; I’m writing my dissertation on a little-known work of Christine de Pizan, who was Aphra’s French equivalent, the first woman to live by her pen in France.

    You’re doing great on goals; certainly, you’re allowed to take it easy when a cold lays you flat!

    Have a wonderful week!


    1. Thanks, Nancy! I’m familiar with Christine de Pizan too, cool diss topic. I was working on postdoc research on Aphra when I got out of academia, so I just wrote a novel about her. *g*

  5. I’ve never heard of Aphra Benn, but she sounds amazing! Good luck getting back into the groove, and get well soon!

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