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  • Cited by 2
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    This chapter has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Evans, Mel 2018. Style and chronology: A stylometric investigation of Aphra Behn’s dramatic style and the dating of The Young King. Language and Literature, Vol. 27, Issue. 2, p. 103.

    Musselwhite, Paul 2011. “What Town's this Boy?”: English civic politics, Virginia's urban debate, and Aphra Behn'sThe Widow Ranter. Atlantic Studies, Vol. 8, Issue. 3, p. 279.

  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: May 2006

5 - Behn’s dramatic response to Restoration politics


Aphra Behn was a staunch Tory at the time when Toryism first developed. In the late 1670s and early 1680s, the country was in the grip of the Exclusion Crisis, as Whigs tried to exclude the Catholic James from succeeding to his brother Charles II's throne, and Tories defended the Stuarts. To put it crudely, Whigs (while mostly monarchists not republicans) saw Catholicism and arbitrary government as the main threats, and prioritized patriotism and parliamentary 'liberties'. Tories placed a premium on kingly authority and class hierarchy, seeing the Whig challenge as raising the spectre of renewed civil war. As the political balance shifted to and fro, many dramatists shifted their allegiance with it; but Behn was a more fervent Tory than the rest. So staunch was she, indeed, that in August 1682 a warrant was issued for her arrest for effectively being too vehement in the King's support. She had written an epilogue to the anonymous play Romulus and Hersilia in which she criticized Charles's bastard son, the Duke of Monmouth, for being in league with the Whigs. Charles was not ready for such assiduity. Even at the end of her life, when she was ill and poor and the Stuarts had been deposed by William of Orange in the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688, Behn refused an invitation to write verse glorifying William's accession and instead wrote an ambiguous poem in which the refusal to praise William at all was the most remarkable feature.

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The Cambridge Companion to Aphra Behn
  • Online ISBN: 9780511999192
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