Author Biography

I am professor emerita and former dean of the School of Arts, Manhattan College, and currently I teach in the Bedford Hills College Program of Marymount Manhattan College. My Behn Bibliography has seen two editions, and I have written several articles and have edited several collections of papers on Behn. I serve on the editorial board for The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Aphra Behn.


Aphra Behn’s poems usually celebrate some form of pastoral life or love, so much so that her “Epitaph on the Tombstone of a Child” seems anomalous in her 1685 Miscellany. The same poem (with two lines crossed out) appears in Cambridge University Library MS Add. 8460, Elizabeth Lyttelton’s Commonplace Book, where it is titled simply “Epitaph on William Fairfax.” The twelve lines also appear on one other material witness: the tomb marker for young William Fairfax, who was Elizabeth Lyttelton’s nephew and Sir Thomas Browne’s grandson. This article examines the poem itself, discusses the deleted lines, considers connections that might have led Behn to compose such a piece, and suggests what this might reveal about Behn, the family of young William Fairfax, and the transmission of Behn’s poems.


Elizabeth Lyttelton, Cambridge University Library MS Add. 8460, Dr. Edward Browne, Sir Thomas Browne, William Fairfax, elegy