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Oroonoko, a novel published in 1688, is notable as an early protest against the slave trade and as a description of primitive people 'in the first state of innocence'. Aphra Behn's memories of her own visit to Surinam in 1663 provide a vivid background to the story in which Prince Oroonoko and the woman he loves are cast into slavery by his jealous grandfather. There follows a dramatic tale of revolt, betrayal and revenge in which the lovers pay the ultimate price for their beliefs.
Little is known of Aphra Behn's early life. She was probably born around 1640 in Kent and in the early 1660s claims to have visited the British colony of Surinam. She turned to literature for a living, producing numerous short stories, 19 stage plays and political propaganda for the Tories.Janet Todd is Francis Hutcheson Professor of English Literature, University of Glasgow and Aphra Behn's biographer.