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Elaine Hobby

Professor Elaine Hobby: The first professional woman writer in English: Aphra Johnson (Behn) from Harbledown

Sunday 30 April, 12 - 1pm, OS.0.01, Michael Berry lecture theatre, Old Sessions House


The first professional woman writer in English was from Canterbury. Born in Harbledown in 1640, under her married surname of Behn she had a spectacular career on the London stage in the 1670s and 80s, and wrote ground-breaking fiction and poetry, too. This talk will explore the startling insights she gives us into the emotional and sexual world of Stuart England. It will also follow her to the other worlds she explored, including Virginia, the west coast of Africa, and the moon.


Elaine Hobby is Professor Emerita of 17th-Century Studies at Loughborough University. Today her primary research topic is the AHRC-funded project ‘Editing Aphra Behn in the Digital Age’. Leading a team of international scholars, one of the project’s outputs will be the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Aphra Behn that will place Behn as not only Britain’s first professional woman playwright, but also mark her importance as poet, fiction-writer, and translator from French.

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Her Own Life: Autobiographical Writings by Seventeenth-Century Englishwomen

Paperback, 05/10/1989, £28.99
This collection contains substantial extracts from the work of twelve seventeenth-century women from different walks of life, writing in a variety of forms covering an enormous range of topics including violence, travel, children and God.

Plays 1682-1696: Volume 4, The Plays 1682-1696

Hardback, 25/03/2021, £89.99
Aphra Behn (1640-1689) is renowned as the first professional woman of literature and drama in English. Best-known for her plays, she also wrote fiction, poetry, and translations, and edited verse collections. This edition includes comprehensively introduced and fully annotated texts of all works known or plausibly believed to be hers.
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