Afra Ben is the first professional writer in England.
Little is known about her early stages of life, but there is evidence that she married in 1658 for a Dutch merchant named Ben, who lived in London.
After the death of her husband, Ben Afra becomes an English spy in the Dutch war, taking the pseudonym Astrea, according to which she subsequently publishes many poems.
In the biography of Afra Ben, a career as a secret agent was unsuccessful, and she returned to England, without money and exhausted, forced to spend some time in prison debtors.
In 1670, for the first time her play was performed, and in 1677 she gained such a coveted fame with the most successful production of “Rover”. All her plays are distinguished by their breadth, vulgar humor.
Despite the success of Afra Ben as a playwright, her best literary achievements are in her novels. The most notable of these is Orunoko, or regal slave, a heroic love story, the first philosophical novel in England.
Afra Ben was also famous for her way of life, as well as her work. Her refusal of female obsequiousness to men and people from high society, bohemian existence led to its description by critics such as George Sand, in the form of the founder and forerunner of the feminist movement.
Her literary reputation rapidly declined in the 18th century, however, the select collection of her works “SMontague Summers” revived the readers’ interest in her.