, author of Robinson Crusoe
story of a man shipwreck
ed alone on an island. Along with
, Defoe is considered the founder of the
as before his time stories were usually written as long
s or drama
s. He produced some 200 works of nonfiction prose in
addition to close on 2,000 short essays in periodical publications,
several of which he also edited.
"One day, about noon, going towards my boat, I was exceedingly
surprised with the print of a man's naked foot on the shore, which was
very plain to be seen on the sand." (from Robinson Crusoe).
Defoe was born as the son of James Foe, a butcher of Stoke Newington
near London. He studied at Charles Morton's Academy, London. Although
Nonconformist father intended him for the ministry, Defoe plunged into
politics and trade, travelling extensively in Europe. Throughout his
life Defoe also wrote about merchantile projects, but his
business ventures failed and left him with large debts.
In the early 1680s Defoe was a commission merchant in Cornhill but went
bankrupt in 1691. In 1684 he married Mary Tuffley; they had two
sons and five daughters. Defoe was involved in the 1685
Monmouth rebellion against King James II. Later he became a supporter
of William II, joining his army in 1688, and gaining a mercenary
reputation because of his change of allegiance.
In 1702 he published a pamphlet "The Shortest Way with the
Dissenters" which caused a public and private uproar and with a
warrant out for his arrest Defoe was forced to become a fugitive.
In 1703 he was caught and convicted for sedition. He managed to escape
but was recaptured and placed in the pillory.
In 1706 he suffered from a second bankruptcy after the failure of a
brick factory which he had set up. Seven years later he was arrested at
least twice for political reasons, suffering a
libel charge which was eventually dropped. Then in 1719 he published
the first part of the novel which was to make his name, and change the
face of English literature forever, "Robinson Crusoe".
A year later he published "Memoirs of a Cavalier,
Captain Singleton" and in 1722 two of his most famous and
well-received works, "Moll Flanders" and a historical
record "A Journal of the Plague Year"
In 1724-1726 he published what is probably the world's first ever travel
guide, "A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain"
which not only increased his fame but made him a moderately wealthy man.
Two years after the completion of this work an old creditor tracked him
down and once more there was a lawsuit against him. Defoe was forced
to go into hiding and on April 24, 1731 he died, still wanted by the law.