Dramatist and novelist, Aphra Behn was born on 10 July 1640 at Wye, Kent. Her early childhood, spent in the West Indies, later provided inspiration for her novel Oroonoko, a forerunner to Rousseau's ‘natural man’. Her marriage to a wealthy merchant in 1663 gave her entrance to the court. In 1666, Charles II chose Behn, then widowed, to carry out spying missions in Holland. She returned to England to concentrate on writing. Although much of her work was published anonymously, fellow Restoration writers, including Dryden, held her in esteem.