Oroonoko is a short work of prose fiction by Aphra Behn (1640–1689), published in 1688, concerning the love of its hero, an enslaved African in Surinam in the 1660s, and the author's own experiences in the new South American colony.
Behn worked for Charles II as a spy during the outset of the Second Dutch War, ending up destitute when she returned to England, and even spending time in a debtors' prison, because Charles failed to pay her properly, or at all. She turned her hand to writing to survive, with remarkable success. She wrote poetry that sold well, and had a number of plays staged, which established her fame in her own lifetime. In the 1670s, only John Dryden had plays staged more often than Behn.
She began to write extended narrative prose toward the end of her career. Published less than a year before she died, Oroonoko is sometimes described as one of the earliest English novels. Interest in it has increased since the 1970s, critics arguing that Behn is the foremother of British women writers, and that Oroonoko is a crucial text in the history of the novel.