In England, women did not write plays when Shakespeare was alive. However, in the late 1600s, many women began writing plays, and many of these plays became popular in London theaters and elsewhere.
Aphra Behn was one of the first women in England to write plays and earn a living doing it. Before writing plays, she worked as a spy for King Charles II! King Charles often did not pay her for her work, so imaginative Aphra decided to make money writing plays.
Catherine Trotter had her first book published when she was 14! Two years later, her first published play, Agnes de Castro, was performed on stage. Catherine wrote 4 more plays, and many books and articles.
In addition to writing plays, Susannah Centlivre was also a poet and actress. She based characters in her play The Basset Table (retitled The Gaming Table) off of real-life people in London, including the famously beautiful Hortense Mancini, who hosted card games at her house.