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a tale of Restoration intrigue by

Molly Brown

Aphra Behn: a brief chronology

circa 1640: Born. Details of her early life are vague. Birthplace may have been Kent, maiden name may have been Johnson. Also, she may have been adopted.

1663: Her (adopted?) father is appointed Lieutenant Governor of Surinam. The family travels to Surinam by ship, but her father dies on the voyage.

circa May 1664: Returns to London.

circa 1664: She marries a Dutch merchant named Behn, who later dies in the Plague. Or does she? Some writers have suggested her dead husband may have been a fabrication created to give her an air of respectability.

July, 1666: She travels to Antwerp as a spy during the war against the Dutch. She is not paid for her services and has to borrow money in order to return home.

Spring, 1667: Returns to London, heavily in debt.

1668: Unable to pay her debts, she is arrested and taken to prison. It is not clear which prison she went to, how long she was incarcerated, or who came up with the money to get her relased.

September, 1670: She makes her debut as a playwright; The Forc'd Marriage is performed at the Duke's Theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields.

1671: The Amorous Prince produced at Lincoln's Inn Fields.

1672: Believed to have edited The Covent Garden Drollery, a collection of poems.

1673: The Dutch Lover is produced at the Duke's company's new Dorset Garden Theatre.

1676: Abdelazer produced by Duke's company in July; The Town Fop produced circa September. (Dorset Garden)

1677: Premiere of her best-known play, The Rover. Two other plays of that year, The Debauchee, and The Counterfeit Bridegroom - are also attributed to her. (Dorset Garden)

1678: Sir Patient Fancy. (Dorset Garden)

1679: The Feign'd Curtezans (dedicated to Nell Gwyn); The Young King. (Dorset Garden)

1680: The Revenge, attributed to Aphra Behn.

1681: The Rover Part II; The False Count; The Roundheads. (Dorset Garden)

1682: The City Heiress; Like Father, Like Son. (Dorset Garden) Aphra is arrested for an "abusive" and "scandalous" epilogue attacking the Duke of Monmouth. The two theatre companies (the Duke's and the King's) merge.

1684: Poems upon Several Occasions published. Also the first part of Love Letters between a Nobleman and his sister.

1685: Publishes her poetical Miscellany. Death of Charles II and accession of his brother James prompts three state poems: A Pindaric on the Death of Our Late Sovereign; A Poem to Catherine Queen Dowager; and A Pindaric Poem on the Happy Coronation.

1686: The Lucky Chance produced at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Published La Montre, or The Lover's Watch, a translation from the French of Balthazar Bonnecorse.

1687: Play: The Emperor of the Moon. Poems: A Pindaric to Christopher, Duke of Albemarle; and To the Memory of George, Duke of Buckingham. Her former lover, John Hoyle, is arrested and tried for sodomy.

1688: Published several short novels: The Fair Jilt; Agnes de Castro; and Oronooko, the latter based on her experiences in Surinam. Her poems that year included: A Congratulatory Poem on the Happy Birth of the Prince of Wales. On the 9th of December, the Queen fled to France with the baby. James II fled to France on the day before Christmas Eve.

1689: Publishes two novels: The History of the Nun; and The Lucky Mistake. Dies 16 April and is buried in Westminster Abbey. John Hoyle is believed to have written the epitaph on her black marble stone:

Here lies a proof that wit can never be
Defence enough against mortality.

November 1689: Posthumous production of The Widow Ranter. (Drury Lane)

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