The Aphra Behn
Chronology of Aphra Behn's Life
1640 -- Birth of Aphra Johnson, second daughter of Bartholomew Johnson
and Elizabeth Denham, baptized Dec. 14 at Harbledown outside of Canterbury.
(Although there has been much controversy over the circumstances of Behn's birth,
this appears to be the most likely candidate.)
1663-64 -- Probable period of residence in Surinam.
1664 -- Possible date for marriage to Mr. Behn, merchant of "Dutch"
1665 -- Death of Mr. Behn?
1667-67 -- Aphra Behn serves in Antwerp as a spy for Charles II.
1668 -- Sent to debtor's prison for debts she incurred in the service
of the crown. Probably released shortly thereafter.
1670 -- Production of Behn's first play, The Forced Marriage,
at Lincoln's Inn Fields by the Duke's Company. It was a great success and ran
for six nights, providing its author with two nights' income. (The "third day"
always belonged to the author of the play.)
1671 -- February - The Amourous Prince (published 1671); Dorset
Garden Theater opened.
1672 -- Covent Garden Drollery published, probably edited by
1673 -- The Dutch Lover produced at Dorset Garden Theater; does not
hold the stage until the third day (not published until 1677).
1675 -- Possible plays by Behn: The Revenge: Or a Match in
Newgate, and The Woman Turned Bully.
1676 -- Behn's only tragedy, Abdelazer, produced in the summer.
It was followed a few months later by The Town Fop (both published
1677 -- The Rover, perhaps Behn's most successful play, produced
in March and published the same year. Nell Gwyn returned to the stage to play the
role of the whore Angelica Bianca. Two further plays produced at Dorset Garden
attributed to Behn, The Debauchee (February) and The Counterfeit
1678 -- Sir Patient Fancy produced in January (published 1678).
Nell Gwyn once again took a role, that of Lady Knowell.
1679 -- The Feigned Courtesans, dedicated to Nell Gwyn,
produced in the spring at Dorset Garden (published 1679) and the tragi-comedy The Young
King in the fall (published 1683).
1681 -- The Second Part of The Rover produced early in the year
(published 1681), The False Count in November and The Roundheads
in December (both published 1682).
1682 -- The City Heiress produced in the spring, (published
1682) followed by Like Father, Like Son, which was such a failure that
it was never published and has since been lost. Behn arrested for an "abusive" prologue, but
probably let off with a warning. Merger of the the King's Company and the Duke's
Company (where Behn's plays were produced) to form the United Company.
1683 -- Publication of the first part of Love Letters Between a
Nobleman and His Sister, an epistolary roman à clef, the first
major epistolary novel in English literature.
1684 -- Behn's Poems on Several Occasions published.
1685 -- Another collection of poems, Miscellany, published.
Death of Charles II; accession of his brother James II.
1686 -- Publication of The Lover's Watch. The Lucky
Chance, Behn's first play since the failure of Like Father Like
Son, produced at Drury Lane (published 1687).
1687 -- Her farce The Emperor of the Moon produced in March and
published the same year.
1688 -- Three prose fiction works by Behn published: The Fair Jilt,
Agnes de Castro and her most famous work, Oroonoko. Abdication of James II
1689 -- Death of Aphra Behn, April 16. Buried in Westminster Abbey. Two
of her plays produced posthumously: The Widow Ranter (1689 - epilogue
by John Dryden) and The Younger Brother (1696).
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