Born to James and Alice Foe of London in 1660
James Foe was a butcher.
Defoe studied at Charles Morton's Academy in
Defoe married Mary Tuffley in 1684, the daughter
of a London merchant
He was possibly a merchant in Spain from 1678
Defoe was part of the Duke of Monmouth‟s failed
rebellion against King James II, a Catholic king.
Daniel was unable to attend such traditional and
prestigious schools as Oxford and Cambridge.
Defoe's education began in the Rev. James
Fisher's school in Dorking, and later, at about the
age of fourteen, he was enrolled in the Dissenting
academy in Newington Green.
Defoe began writing anonymously in the 1680s.
He mostly wrote political essays.
Defoe‟s first success came in the form of a satire,
„The True-Born Englishman‟ in 1701.
Defoe was imprisoned in 1703 for his satire, “The
Shortest Way with Dissenters”, an essay in which
he uses an ironic voice to depict a religious zealot
intent on eradicating dissenters.
Defoe was released from prison because of his
talent as a writer. He agreed to write
propaganda for Robert Harley, a member of
He also became an intelligence agent, a line of
work that he continued after the Tories fell from
power and the Whigs rose.
He continued to write essays while he
published The Review from 1704 to 1713.
He changed his name from Foe to Defoe in
His father wanted him to become a minister.
He gave up this dream and went into business.
In 1683, he went into business having given up
an earlier intent on becoming a dissenting
minister. He traveled often, selling such goods as
wine and wool, but was rarely out of debt.
He went bankrupt in 1692
In 1703 decided to leave the business industry
Defoe the Novelist
Defoe became on of England‟s most important
early novelists when he moved away from essays
and published Robinson Crusoe in 1719.
Defoe wrote many novels in the same format as
Robinson Crusoe in the five years after it was
He had written over 400 pamphlets and books.
Defoe's novel Robinson Crusoe (1719) tells of a man's shipwreck on a
deserted island and his subsequent adventures. The author based part of
his narrative on the story of the Scottish castaway Alexander Selkirk,
who spent four years stranded on the island of Juan Fernandez.
Defoe's next novel was Captain Singleton (1720), a bipartite adventure
story whose first half covers a traversal of Africa and whose second
half taps into the contemporary fascination with piracy. It has been
commended for its sensitive depiction of the close relationship between
the eponymous hero and his religious mentor, the Quaker William
Memoirs of a Cavalier:
Later, Defoe wrote Memoirs of a Cavalier (1720), set during the Thirty
Years' War and the English Civil War.
Colonel Jack (1722) follows an orphaned boy from a life of
poverty and crime to colonial prosperity, military and marital
imbroglios and religious conversion, driven by a problematic
notion of becoming a "gentleman."
Moll Flanders and Roxana:
Also in 1722, Defoe wrote Moll Flanders, another first-person
picaresque novel of the fall and eventual redemption of a lone
woman in 17th century England. The titular heroine appears as a
whore, bigamist and thief, lives in The Mint, commits adultery
and incest, and yet manages to retain the reader's sympathy.
The Shortest Way with the Dissenters-1702
1720 – Memoirs of a Cavalier
1722 – Journal of the Plague Year
1722 – Moll Flanders
The Complete English Tradesman-1726
The Pirate Gow-1725
1724-1727 - Tour thro‟ the Whole Island of
Died in April 24, 1731
He was buried in
Bunhill Fields, London,
where his grave can
still be visited