Daniel Defoe biography
BY DAVID ROSS, EDITOR
Daniel Defoe was born in 1660 to James Foe (note the spelling), a chandler in St. Giles, Cripplegate, London. In 1695 the younger Foe adopted the more aristocratic sounding "Defoe" as his surname.
Defoe trained for the ministry at Morton's Academy for Dissenters, but he never followed through on this plan, and instead worked briefly as a hosiery merchant before serving as a soldier for the king during Monmouth's Rebellion.
After that short-lived revolt was speedily put down, Defoe returned to hosiery, and built a successful company. He traveled widely on the continent in the course of his business, and was recruited by the government to act as a spy, a role in which he seems to have delighted.
Defoe was a prolific writer, and the first publication we know of appeared in 1688, but it was his The True Born Englishman (1701) which propelled him into the limelight. This poem attacked those who thought England should not have a foreign-born king, and no
Perhaps these experiences made him weary of the dangers inherent in political commentary, for in 1719 Defoe turned to fiction, writing Robinson Crusoe, based on the true account of a shipwrecked mariner. He followed the success of Crusoe with Captain Singleton (1720), Journal of the Plague Year (1722), Captain Jack (1722), Moll Flanders (1722), and Roxanda (1724).
Defoe did not confine himself to fiction; he also wrote several popular travel books, including the vivid Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain (1724-27). Before his death in 1731, Daniel Defoe published over 500 books and pamphlets.
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This famous building, on the site of the notorious Newgate Prison, is the site of the Central Criminal Court
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31 March, 1854
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