Aphra Behn is a complicated figure within English theatrical history. As the first woman in England to classify herself as a professional writer and playwright, she wrote to support herself and to prove a point during a time when women were deemed subordinate to men. She was a commoner among royals, revolting against the societal norms of her time with her vulgar, yet ingeniously crafty works. Behn's influence extends far beyond being just a writer of her time period; rather, she left a mark as a pillar of English literature. She was an adventurist, an abolitionist, feminist, and civil rights advocate who used pen and paper to reiterate her ideology, which is demonstrated through her novels, Oroonoko: or the Royal Slave and The Rover. Her works and the influences they cast prove Aphra Behn to be a dramatist worthy of the ranks of other famous British writers of this time period. .
Aphra Behn's life is marked by much uncertainty. There is little known about her early years and "neither as a man, nor an aristocrat, nor a conformist, she proves peculiarly resistant to biographical recovery" [ CITATION Wil l 1033 ]. Since Behn was a single female commoner, there are very few historical records of her and her past. Historians have pieced together that she was born in Kent in 1640, and she was the second daughter of a barber, Bartholomew Johnson, and a wet nurse, Elizabeth Denham [ CITATION Bio15 l 1033 ]. It is believed that Denham's job as a caretaker for an upper class family allowed Behn the opportunity to receive some sort of second hand education [ CITATION Bio15 l 1033 ]. Through her works of prose and poetry, this author presents herself as "a woman of learning" who clearly obtained some means of schooling in her past [ CITATION Gel12 l 1033 ]. In her teenage years, Behn and her family allegedly journeyed from England to the British colony of Surinam because of her father's transferal there due to a military appointment [ CITATION Bio15 l 1033 ].