Oroonoko is a short novel by Aphra Behn published in 1688, concerning
the tragic love of its hero, an enslaved African in Suriname in the
1660's, and the author's own experiences with the new American
It is generally claimed (most famously by Virginia Woolf) that Aphra
Behn was the first professional female author in English. While this
is not entirely true, it is true that Behn was the first professional
female dramatist and novelist, as well as one of the first novelists
in English. Although she had written at least one novel previously,
Oroonoko is both one of the earliest English novels and one of the
earliest by a woman. Behn worked for Charles II as a spy during the
outset of the Second Dutch War, working to solicit a double agent.
However, Charles either failed to pay her for her services or failed
to pay her all that he owed her, and Behn, upon returning to England
needed money. She was widowed and destitute and even spent some time
in debtor's prison before scoring a number of successes as an
In the 1670's, only John Dryden had plays staged more often than
She turned her hand to long prose toward the end of her dramatic
career, and Oroonoko was published in the same year as her death at
the age of 48.
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Today's selected anniversaries:
Irish potato famine: An Irish newspaper ran a story about a new potato
The world's first automatic teller machine was installed in the London
Borough of Enfield.
The Stonewall riots began in New York City, starting the modern gay
Muhammad Ali announced his retirement from boxing.
The International Court of Justice ruled against the United States in
Nicaragua v. United States.
Wikiquote of the day:
"The highest result of education is tolerance. Long ago men fought
died for their faith; but it took ages to teach them the other kind
courage, — the courage to recognize the faiths of their brethren and
their rights of conscience. Tolerance is the first principal of
community; it is the spirit which conserves the best that all men
think." -- Helen Keller