Podcast #14: Aphra Behn & Vivian Maier

Episode 2 of our new season, produced and presented in November 2018 by Susan Stone.

Translator extraordinaire (and DLS co-founder) Katy Derbyshire tells us all about Aphra Behn, the first woman author who lived off her writing. Additionally, our podcast producer Susan Stone visits a new Berlin exhibition of work by the mysterious photographer Vivian Maier and tries to pin down just who took these pictures and how she would feel about them becoming public.

Also available on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, RadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and Acast.

Show notes

Here’s a sketch of Aphra Behn by George Scharf:

Aphra_Behn Scharf

Here’s a longer version of that Blackadder clip, note the period fashions:

The opening pages of Behn’s Oronoko, in French translation:


Aphra Behn, “The Poetess”, by Peter Lely:


More Behn:


If your interest in milk punch is piqued, try any of the delightful recipes out there and serve some Restoration-era cocktails at your next social gathering. And here’s the final extant portrait:


Katy recommends you read Behn’s The Rover, and the excellent biography by Janet Todd, Aphra Behn: A Secret Life. And at this link you can find a picture of Behn’s grave at Westminster Abbey.

On to Vivian Maier. Here she is in a typical selfie:

Self-portrait, undated,  © Estate of Vivian Maier, Courtesy of Maloof Collection and Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY.

If you want to see more of her work, check out the show at the Willy Brandt Haus in Berlin (up until January 6, 2019), browse the website dedicated to her work, or check out the fantastic biography by Pamela Bannos. 

This episode features music by Dee Yan-Key (“Weep No More“), and our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back in December with our next episode.

Dead Ladies Show #6

We are proud to announce that Monday 11 April, 8pm, will bring you a triple-A Dead Ladies Show, your favorite literary cabaret dedicated to ladies who were once wonderfulJoin our sixth extravaganza and come celebrate three fascinating women: Special guests Lucy Renner-Jones and Fabian Wolff spill the beans on Annemarie Schwarzenbach and Alma Cogan, while regular Katy Derbyshire parts the mists of time to tell us all about Aphra Behn—all held together by your beloved co-host Florian Duijsens.

Come along in your finest finery or your raggedest rags for an evening full of fabulous facts and females, with a special drink on offer to suit the occasion. Entry is €4 on the door, and as always we’re at ACUD, Veteranenstrasse 21, in the back of the courtyard; come on time to get the best seats!

As always, the evening will be presented in English and German (Bitte scrollen für die deutsche Version) for your delectation and inspiration, so tell your German and your Anglo friends!

p.s. Should you require a daily dose of dead-lady magic, check us out at @deadladiesshow.

Annemarie Schwarzenbach was a Swiss photojournalist and writer. Addicted to morphine from her early 20s, she was the first woman to drive from Geneva to Kabul (in the 1930s!) and had stormy relationships with Carson McCullers and Erika Mann. Thanks to her pioneering reportage and famously androgynous style, Schwarzenbach has in recent years been rediscovered as a true lesbian icon.

Alma Cogan, “the girl with the giggle in her voice”, was a Jewish girl from London and briefly England’s biggest pop star, fifty years before Amy Winehouse. She had hit after hit in the 1950s and knew everyone who was anyone, playing host to Audrey Hepburn, Noel Coward, Sammy Davis, Jr. and John Lennon. Alma’s career ended as the 1960s began – her friendly pop tunes went out of fashion. By the time she died, aged 34, she was little but a memory, long due a revival.

Aphra Behn was one of the first women ever to make a living as a writer. She wrote plays, novels, poetry and translations, was probably also a spy and may have travelled all the way to Surinam – all this in Restoration England during the late 17th century! Famously praised by Virginia Woolf as a role model for women, Aphra came out of obscurity to lead a “life dedicated to pleasure and poetry” and has inspired writers for hundreds of years.

Lucy Renner Jones was born in England and did several jobs before becoming a translator. Up until 2004, she worked in Barcelona, Hamburg and Berlin as a photographer. Then she returned to her roots in literature and founded the translator’s collective Transfiction. She has a BA in German and Film from UEA, where she was taught by W. G. Sebald, and an MA in Applied Linguistics. She has translated Annemarie Schwarzenbach, Silke Scheuermann and Brigitte Reimann, writes book reviews for CULTurMAG and Words Without Borders, and hosts a series of events under the label The Fiction Canteen for writers and translators in Berlin.Fabian Wolff is an author from Berlin. He writes for newspapers, is occasionally on the radio and is working on his first novel. He writes in German and in English about old books and new music and vice-versa. A man of few words and great knowledge, might we add.

Annemarie Schwarzenbach war Schweizer Fotojournalistin und Schriftstellerin. Ab Anfang 20 morphinsüchtig, sie war die erste Frau, die eine Automobilreise von Genf nach Kabul machte – in den 30er Jahren! – und hatte stürmische Beziehungen mit Carson McCullers und Erika Mann. Dank ihrer bahnbrechenden Reportagen und ihres androgynen Stils ist Schwarzenbach in letzter Zeit als lesbische Ikone wiederentdeckt worden.

50 Jahre vor Amy Winehouse war ein anderes jüdisches Mädchen aus London kurz der größte Popstar Englands: Alma Cogan, “the girl with the giggle in her voice”, landete in den Fünfzigern Hit nacht Hit und war Dauergast der BBC. Alma kannte jeden, in ihrer Wohnung gingen Audrey Hepburn, Noel Coward, John Lennon und Sammy Davis, Jr ein und aus. Mit dem Beginn der Sechziger endete ihre Karriere – ihr freundlicher Pop-Schlager war nicht mehr gefragt. Als sie mit 34 starb, war sie nur noch eine Erinnerung.

Aphra Behn war eine der ersten Frauen, die sich vom Schreiben ernährt hat. Sie schrieb Theaterstücke, Romane, Lyrik und Übersetzungen, war vermutlich auch Spionin und reiste vielleicht bis nach Surinam – all das Ende des 17. Jahrhunderts in England! Von Virginia Woolf als Vorbild für schreibende Frauen gepriesen, kam Aphra aus unbekannten Verhältnissen, um ein „dem Pläsier und der Poesie gewidmetes Leben“ zu führen.


Lucy Renner Jones stammt aus England und hatte einige Berufe, bevor sie Übersetzerin wurde. Bis 2004 arbeitete sie als Fotografin in Barcelona, Hamburg und Berlin. Dann kehrte sie zu ihren literarischen Wurzeln zurück und gründete die Übersetzungskollektive Transfiction. Sie übersetzt u.a. Annemarie Schwarzenbach, Silke Scheuermann und Brigitte Reimann, schreibt Kritiken für CULTurMAG und Words Without Borders und organisiert eine Berliner Veranstaltungsreihe für Schreibende und Übersetzende mit dem Namen The Fiction Canteen.

Fabian Wolff ist Autor aus Berlin, er schreibt für Zeitungen, ist manchmal im Radio und arbeitet an seinem ersten Roman. Er schreibt auf deutsch und englisch über alte Bücher und neue Musik, und umgekehrt. Sagt hier wenig, weiß sehr viel, fügen wir hinzu.