Loughborough University
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Canterbury's Aphra Behn: Data Management Plan

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posted on 2023-10-26, 07:55 authored by Elaine HobbyElaine Hobby

Funding abstract:

Aphra Behn's Canterbury is a project designed mostly by Canterbury people to raise the city's daughter, Aphra Behn, to her justly high profile in Canterbury.

Aphra Behn (1640-1689), born Aphra Johnson in the village of Harbledown on the edge of Canterbury, went on to become the first professional woman writer in English, with a dazzling profile amongst her own contemporaries for her London-performed eighteen plays, her fiction (which includes the first account in English to be centred on an uprising of enslaved Africans), her poetry, and her translations from French. Beyond the academic world, though, Behn is little known today.

Working to demonstrate to Canterbury's governance and substantial tourism sector Behn's potential great appeal to wide-ranging audiences, Aphra Behn's Canterbury plans a year-long series of events focused on her achievements and her importance today. The activities we are organising include a three-month-long exhibition at The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, displaying to the city's residents and visitors Behn's importance and how she (partly) escaped a woman's limitations in her time; guided walks to Behn-related sites in the city; expert talks about Behn's spying career, about her writings about early colonialism and slavery, and about the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of her play The Rover in 2016-17; a public celebration of the life-size bronze statue of Behn that will be erected in central Canterbury in 2024; and performances of songs written by Behn and of her second play, The Amorous Prince (1671), which has not previously been staged for 353 years.

Throughout, we will track and analyse audience and wider public responses to Behn as they learn about her, so as to inform later Behn-related activities. We will also establish a richly populated website making recordings of our events and teaching materials about Behn freely available.

Aphra Behn's Canterbury results from collaborations between The Aphra Behn Society of Canterbury, The A Is for Aphra campaign working in conjunction with the Canterbury Commemoration Society, and other partners who include Loughborough University, Canterbury Christ Church University, the Canterbury Players, Canterbury Cathedral and Libraries, and Canterbury Business Improvement District. Throughout, this project draws deeply on the AHRC-funded Editing Aphra Behn in the Digital Age, presenting the outcomes of that research to wide audiences so as to change their knowledge and understanding of Behn and her relevance today, and to demonstrate to local civic authorities and tourist-focused businesses that she can and should raise the city's profile as an arts and heritage destination both nationally and globally. Aphra Behn's Canterbury will also provide experience and training to an Early Career Researcher in the role of Impact and Engagement Fellow.





  • Design and Creative Arts


  • English

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