Aphra Behn (1640–1689), wrote Oroonoko, a short novel then published in 1688, a novel seen as the real first example of novel .
A. Behn was one of Charles II’s spy during the Second Dutch War. Back home, the king did not pay her and she had to spend a period in prison fo debts. Then she got her own living by writing and was quite successful. At first she wrote poetry and dramas (only Dryden had more played staged than A. Behn). At the end of her life she began to write extended narrative prose and Oroonoko is one of the earliest English novels. Since the 1970s, critics have been arguing that Behn is among the most remarkable British women writers, and Virginia Woolf looked at her as the first example of professional woman writer.
Oroonoko: or, the Royal Slave is about the grandson of an Coromantin African king, Prince Oroonoko, who falls in love with Imoinda, the daughter of that king’s top general. The king, too, falls in love with Imoinda and commands her to become one of his wives even if she is already married to Oroonoko. After spending time in the king’s harem, Imoinda and Oroonoko plan a a meeting; they are discovered, and Imoinda is sold as a slave. Later, Oronokoo is captured after a victorious battle, and an English captain plans to sell him and his men as slaves. On the journey to Surinam, an English sugarcane plantation in the West Indies, Imoinda and Oroonoko meet again When Imoinda is pregnant Oroonoko asks for their return to the homeland, but as he is continuously ignored, he organizes a slave revolt (= rivolta di schiavi). The slaves are hunted and captured, and are punished and whipped (= frustati) down. To get revenge Oroonoko decides to kill deputy governor Byam, who captured them, but to protect Imoinda from subjugation (= essere soggiogata) after his death, he decides to kill her. Unfortunately Oroonoko is found and publicly executed.
The narrator tells the actions set in Africa and portrays herself as a witness of the actions that take place in Surinam
The novel is written in a mixture of first and third person: the narrator in the novel is as a lady who has come to Surinam with her unnamed father, new lieutenant-general of the colony, who dies on the voyage from England. She and her family are given the finest house in the settlement, and her experiences of meeting the indigenous peoples and slaves are intermixed with the main plot of the love of Oroonoko and Imoinda. At the end, the narrator leaves Surinam for London.