A is for Aphra

Have you heard of Aphra Behn? Find out why A is for Aphra and the Canterbury Commemoration Society have joined forces to get a bronze statue of this incredible woman erected in her hometown of Canterbury.

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Who was Aphra Behn?

Aphra Behn was an extraordinary woman: the first professional woman writer in English, a playwright, poet, a spy for Charles II, a traveller, a wit and a LGBTQ+ icon.

She showed women that their words had power. She has inspired generations of other women to write for the page and the stage.

Aphra Behn's novel Oroonoko was a ground-breaking work which made a black African slave into the hero of a work of fiction - unheard of for the time! Some people also claim Oroonoko is the first novel to be written in English. Between 1670 and 1690, she was also the most prolific playwright in Britain.

But as time went on, tastes changed and Aphra’s Behn’s poems and plays were considered too rude and bawdy by our Victorian ancestors.

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So Aphra Behn faded from the history of literature. 

We think Aphra Behn deserves to be remembered. That’s why we are launching a fundraising campaign for a statue of her in Canterbury, the city she grew up in. We want Aphra Behn to take her place alongside Marlowe and Chaucer as one of the literary giants celebrated not only by this fantastic city, but also by those far beyond it. 

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Image Copyright Clare Abbatt 2021

The Statue

Read more about some fantastic possible Canterbury locations for the statue of Aphra Behn and get involved by voting for your favourite one.

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"All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds."

- Virginia Woolf

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