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A statue for Aphra Behn in Canterbury


Aphra Behn. Engraving primarily based on Peter Lely’s portrait

The town of Canterbury has many literary connections. It’s the end-point for Chaucer’s pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales, the setting for the homicide of Thomas a Becket as dramatized by TS Eliot in Homicide within the Cathedral, and the birthplace of Shakespeare’s up to date author, Christopher Marlowe.  Aphra Behn’s connection is far much less well-known, however see this submit for details about her. Born in Canterbury, she was the primary skilled author within the English language, and it’s nice information that she is to be commemorated with a full-size statue.

There are already statues highlighting town’s literary heritage. In 2016 a statue of Geoffrey Chaucer was unveiled. It reveals Chaucer, drained on the finish of his pilgrimage, on a round plinth depicting a few of his pilgrims. Christopher Marlowe’s statue was devoted within the late nineteenth century and at present stands close to the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury. On the time the portrait now usually  accepted as Marlowe had not been recognized, so the statue depicts not him however a feminine determine, the Muse of Poetry. This semi-naked determine is familiarly referred to as Kitty and characters from his performs are beneath.

Fortuitously Aphra Behn’s look is thought. She was painted by courtroom painter Sir Peter Lely within the 1670s when she was a well-known author, and lots of engravings have been revealed primarily based on the portray. She died on the comparatively younger age of 49, in 1689, and such was her renown that she was buried in Westminster Abbey. After that point, although, she was largely forgotten and it’s solely comparatively just lately that her performs have been extensively carried out  and studied and her repute as a trailblazer for ladies re-established. It was only some years earlier than she began writing, within the 1660s and 1670s, that ladies have been allowed to behave on public levels, and girls would have loved enjoying the colourful roles that she wrote for them. In The Rover, her most well-known play, the intelligent, ingenious girls run rings across the males.

The Canterbury Commemoration Society is liable for organising the brand new statue of Aphra. They’ve held a contest to design it and have whittled the entries all the way down to a shortlist of 4. The maquettes have been on a bit tour and on 27 and 28 June they have been on show within the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford. It was an amazing alternative to see them and vote on a favorite, however after all all the knowledge, together with movies of every maquette and the artist’s feedback on their work, can be found on-line. If in case you have learn or seen any of Aphra Behn’s work, and beloved it, do vote for the statue you wish to see symbolize her within the metropolis of her delivery.

The maquettes of Aphra Behn

A fundraising dinner can be being held in Canterbury on 16 July 2022. Audio system will embody actor Alexandra Gilbreath who starred within the RSC’s most up-to-date manufacturing of The Rover, educational and poet Charlotte Cornell, and theatre director Matthew Townshend. In a particular public sale, the maquettes themselves will probably be offered off. However most significantly, get voting!

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