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A Blue Plaque for Aphra Behn

All around Canterbury, you may start to notice blue plaques decorating the architecture.

English Heritage’s Blue Plaques Scheme began in London. However, it has inspired many local authorities and councils around the UK to adopt similar programs. Running since 2020 in Canterbury, it has been named the Blue Plaque Project.

We are proud of The Worthgate School’s Diversity Committee, who have played a key role in securing a blue plaque for Aphra Behn. Our students began the process by carefully crafting a proposal, justifying why Aphra Behn should receive a plaque. Little is known about her early life, which meant it proved difficult to find a building associated with her. The Diversity Committee faced the issue head on and found that Aphra Behn had been baptised in the church in Harbledown. It is planned for the plaque to be placed near the site for the original church.

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Aphra Behn led an interesting and impactful life, which is why our students felt she deserved to be commemorated. By many, Aphra Behn is considered to be the first professional female writer. Active in the later half of the 17th century, Behn is thought to have been born into humble beginnings in Canterbury. She did not enter into the aristocracy until later in her life.

Before she settled down to focus on her writing, Aphra Behn dabbled in espionage on behalf of the King Charles II and served a short stint in prison! Her first few plays were released with little success, but in the 1670s she released The Rover, which became incredibly popular. In addition to the 19 plays written over the course of her life, Aphra Behn also published books, including Oroonoko, which is often regarded as one of the earliest English novels, as well as various poetry collections.

The Blue Plaque project commemorates a historical figure with local ties. The Plaques are mounted on buildings which were significant in the life of this person. To receive a blue plaque individuals must meet a few strict conditions:

  • They must have been local and deceased for at least 20 years, to show they’ve had a lasting impact.
  • They must be linked to a building in the local area.
  • They must be nominated for the project by members of the public.

With all her achievements, Aphra Behn makes an ideal candidate for the project and is definitely a woman worth remembering!

Here at The Worthgate School, we run lots of extracurricular activities, which encourages students to pursue their interests, hobbies and passions. Getting involved in a club is a great way to make friends and meet people with similar interests while you study abroad. It also provides you with a chance to get involved with your school community.

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