“English dramatist, novelist, and poet, the first Englishwoman known to earn her living by writing. Her early life is obscure (as is her original surname), but she spent most of it in South America. Her novel Oroonoko (1988), the story of an enslaved African prince who Behn knew in South America, influenced the development of the English novel. Her first play, The Forc’d Marriage, was produced in 1671; her later witty comedies, such as the two-part The Rover (1677, 1681), were highly successful, and toward the end of her life she wrote many popular novels.”
Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.