Daniel Defoe

Novelist Daniel Defoe

Full Name: Daniel Foe
Profession: Novelist


Biography: Daniel Defoe was an English trader, writer, journalist, pamphleteer, and spy, best known for his novel Robinson Crusoe, published in 1719. He was an incredibly versatile and prolific author, producing more than 500 books, pamphlets, and journals on a wide range of topics throughout his career.

Defoe's early life was marked by periods of business ventures and political activism. He was a dissenting Protestant, which limited his educational opportunities and marked him as a political outsider. Despite these challenges, Defoe became a successful merchant, dealing in hosiery, general woollen goods, and wine. His business ventures weren't always successful, though, and he declared bankruptcy more than once.

In the late 1690s, Defoe shifted his focus towards writing. He became well known for his political pamphlets and his contributions to the emerging field of economic journalism. His The Shortest Way with the Dissenters; Or, Proposals for the Establishment of the Church (1702), a satirical piece suggesting extreme persecution of dissenters, landed him in prison for seditious libel.

Defoe’s most enduring contribution to literature came later in his career, with the publication of Robinson Crusoe in 1719. The novel is often credited as marking the beginning of realistic fiction as a literary genre. It tells the story of a man's shipwreck on a deserted island and his subsequent adventures. This was followed by other notable works like Moll Flanders (1722), a novel recounting the life of a resilient woman in 17th-century England.

Born: September 13, 1660
Birthplace: London, England
Star Sign: Virgo

Died: April 24, 1731 (aged 70)

Historical Events

  • 1659-09-30 Robinson Crusoe is shipwrecked (according to Daniel Defoe's famous novel)
  • 1686-12-19 Robinson Crusoe leaves his island after 28 years (as per Daniel Defoe's famous novel)
  • 1703-07-31 Daniel Defoe is placed in a pillory for the crime of seditious libel after publishing a politically satirical pamphlet, but is pelted with flowers
  • 1719-04-25 Daniel Defoe publishes "Robinson Crusoe", regarded as the 1st English novel