Daniel Defoe

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Daniel Defoe

Daniel Foe , better known by his pseudonym Daniel Defoe (London, between 1659 and 1661, possibly October 10, 1660-Moorfields, London, April 24Jul ./ May 5 de 1731greg.) Was an English writer, journalist and pamphleteer, worldwide known for his novel Robinson Crusoe. Defoe is important for being one of the first cultivators of the novel, literary genre that was popularized in England and also received the title of father of all English novelists.Defoe is considered a pioneer of the economic press.


Daniel Defoe Memorial, Bunhill Fields, City Road, London (January 2005).

Daniel_Defoe’s Biography

His early years

He was probably born on Fore Street, in the parish of St. Giles Cripplegate, London. The date and place of his birth are uncertain. His father, James Foe, as a member of the butchers ‘guild known as the Butchers’ Company (in English The Worshipful Company of Butchers), was engaged in the trade of ceramics using tallow as material for the creation of waxes. Daniel would later add the aristocratic “De” to his name and on certain occasions he would claim descent from the De Beau Faux family. His parents were dissident Presbyterians, thus considered because their religious beliefs did not coincide totally with those of the Church of England (established and maintained by the English State.) His mother Annie died when she was ten years old.

In 1667, he received his first teachings at Dorking, then at Stoke Newington Green, at the Academy for Dissidents led by Charles Morton (who would be vice president of Harvard University). After leaving the academy and deciding that he did not want to be a minister, Defoe entered the business world in general, trading in items as diverse as hosiery, common wool items or wine products. Despite his ambitions and that he would buy a farm in the field and a boat (as well as civets to make perfume), he was rarely free of debt, which is why he became incarcerated.

In 1684, Defoe marries the young Mary Tuffley, receiving a dowry of 3700 pounds sterling. With their recurrent debts, the difficulties of marriage increased. They had eight children, of which six survived.

In 1685 Defoe supported the nefarious rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth. This time he escaped conviction thanks to a pardon obtained with the help of Justice George Jeffreys.

Once he was released, he probably traveled to Europe and Scotland, and it is very possible that it was during this period when he traded wine with the cities of Cádiz, Oporto and Lisbon.

In 1688 he supports Guillermo III de Orange in the Glorious Revolution.

Around 1695 he returned to England, using the name “Defoe”, and acting as “crystal tax commissary”, responsible for collecting the taxes on the bottles. In 1696 he ran a brick and tile company in Tilbury, Essex.

The pamphleteer and prison

Defoe’s political activities along with his pamphleteering activism led to his arrest and exposure to the pillory on July 31, 1703, mainly due to a pamphlet entitled The Shortest Way with Dissenters. In this pamphlet parodiaba to the Tories of the Church, appearing the argumentation on the extermination of the “dissidents”. The publication of his poem “Hymn to the Pillory” (“Hymn to the Pillory”), however, caused the public gathered around the pillory to throw flowers, instead of harmful and harmful objects, and to drink at their health.

After three days in the pillory, Defoe was imprisoned in Newgate prison. Robert Harley, first Earl of Oxford and Mortimer, facilitated his departure in exchange for Defoe’s cooperation as a spy. He founded the periodic Magazine on the affairs of France (A Review of the Affairs of France) in 1704, helping the ministry of Harley. This revision was made without interruptions until 1713. When Harley lost power in 1708, Defoe continued writing to support Godolphin, then re-support Harley and the Tories during his term of government between 1710 and 1714. After the death of the queen Ana, the Tories fell from power and Defoe continued to work for the intelligence service of the Whig government.

Before his novelistic work, Defoe wrote The Family Instructor (1715), a manual of conduct on religious duties; Minutes of the Negotiations of Monsr. Mesnager (1717), where he is identified as Nicolas Mesnager, and Continuation of the Letters Writ by a Turkish Spy (1718), a satire on European culture.

Defoe’s famous novel Robinson Crusoe, written in 1719, tells of the wreck of a man on a desert island and the adventures he experienced there. The author was able to base his novel on the real story of the wreck of the Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk and the Spanish sailor Pedro Serrano.

Defoe’s next novel was The Adventures of Captain Singleton (The Life, Adventures and Piracies of the Famous Captain Singleton), written in 1720, the portrait of the redeeming power of one man’s love for another. Hans Turley has recently shown how Quaker William’s love for Captain Singleton separated him from a criminal and pirate life, and from the existence of a solemn vow to live happily later in London as a sentimental couple, disguised as Greeks, without speak English in public and with Singleton married to William’s sister to keep up appearances.

A late work, often read as if it were nonfiction, is his account of the Great Plague of London of 1665: Journal of the Year of the Plague (A Journal of the Plague Year), a complex historical novel published in 1722.

He also wrote Fortunes and Adversities of the famous Moll Flanders (The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, better known as Moll Flanders) in 1722, a picaresque novel narrated in the first person that deals with the fall and the eventual redemption of a lonely woman in the seventeenth century in England. She appears as a rage, bigamy, thief who lives in the English district known as The Mint, denomination given by King Henry VIII because his mint was located there, which commits adultery and incest, although It tends to win the reader’s sympathy. This work fulfills the characteristics of the picaresque genre: narration in episodes, evolution of the character in terms of the events that happen to him, change of social class of the protagonist, simulation and deception are the main form of acting of Moll. The author performs a narrative pretense by posing as an editor, etc.

Moll Flanders, next to the work entitled Roxana or the Lucky Lover (‘Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress), which was written in 1724, offers important examples of the way in which Defoe seems to populate his fictional characters (though possibly brought from real life), without limiting them exclusively to women.

A trip across the island of Great Britain (A tour thro ‘the Whole Island of Great Britain) is another job that retains its value. Produced between 1724 and 1727, it is a detailed account of his visits to various cities and small towns and is an excellent description of Britain before the Industrial Revolution.

When the famous criminal Jonathan Wild was hanged, Defoe wrote a story for the Applebee’s Journal in May and then published True and Genuine Account of the Life and Actions of the Late Jonathan Wild in June 1725.

Political History of the Devil (The Political History of the Devil, 1726) sounds like a joke or satire. But critics say that Defoe really thought that the Devil participated in world history. His point of view is that of a Presbyterian of the s. XVIII: blames the Devil of the Crusades and sees him close to the powers of Catholic Europe.

Daniel Defoe died in 1731, probably while living in hiding, fleeing from his creditors. They are shuffled as dates of Defoe’s death on April 24 and 25 of that year, receiving burial at Bunhill Fields, London.

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