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A comprehensive life and works history of daniel defoe

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Such ambitious debates on society and human nature ran parallel with the explorations of a literary form finding new popularity with a large audience, the novel. Daniel Defoe came to sustained prose fiction late in a career of quite various, often disputatious writing.

There Defoe received an education in many ways better, and certainly broader, than any he would have had at an English university. Although intended for the Presbyterian ministry, Defoe decided against this and by 1683 had set up as a merchant.

  • Hans Turley has recently shown how Quaker William's love turns Captain Singleton away from the murderous life of a pirate, and the two make a solemn vow to live as a male couple happily ever after in London, disguised as Greeks and never speaking English in public, with Singleton married to William's sister as a ruse;
  • The first of many political pamphlets by him appeared in 1683;
  • Defoe's famous novel Robinson Crusoe 1719 , tells of a man's shipwreck on a desert island and his subsequent adventures.

He dealt in many commodities, traveled widely at home and abroad, and became an acute and intelligent economic theorist, in many respects ahead of his time; but misfortune, in one form or another, dogged him continually. He wrote of himself: No man has tasted differing fortunes more, And thirteen times I have been rich and poor. It was true enough. Opinions differ as to the cause of his collapse: He suffered further severe losses in 1703, when his prosperous brick-and-tile works near Tilbury failed during his imprisonment for political offenses, and he did not actively engage in trade after this time.

Daniel Defoe: Master of Fictions: His Life and Works

Soon after setting up in business, in 1684, Defoe married Mary Tuffley, the daughter of a well-to-do Dissenting merchant. Not much is known about her, and he mentions her little in his writings, but she seems to have been a loyal, capable, and devoted wife.

She bore eight children, of whom six lived to maturity, and when Defoe died the couple had been married for 47 years.

  • At the age of 59 Defoe embarked on what was virtually a new career, producing in Robinson Crusoe the first of a remarkable series of novels and other fictional writings that resulted in his being called the father of the English novel;
  • His method was ironic:

Mature life and works. The first of many political pamphlets by him appeared in 1683. Since the Treaty of Rijswijk 1697it had become increasingly probable that what would, in effect, be a European war would break out as soon as the childless king of Spain died. In 1701 five gentlemen of Kent presented a petition, demanding greater defense preparations, to the House of Commons then Tory-controlled and were illegally imprisoned.

It had been a courageous gesture and one of which Defoe was ever afterward proud, but it undoubtedly branded him in Tory eyes as a dangerous man who must be brought down. What did bring him down, only a year or so later, and consequently led to a new phase in his career, was a religious question—though it is difficult to separate religion from politics in this period.

  • But Defoe always claimed that the end justified the means, and a more sympathetic view may see him as what he always professed to be, an unswerving champion of moderation;
  • But Defoe always claimed that the end justified the means, and a more sympathetic view may see him as what he always professed to be, an unswerving champion of moderation;
  • He suffered further severe losses in 1703, when his prosperous brick-and-tile works near Tilbury failed during his imprisonment for political offenses, and he did not actively engage in trade after this time;
  • Both the date and the place of his birth are uncertain;
  • She bore eight children, of whom six lived to maturity, and when Defoe died the couple had been married for 47 years.

His method was ironic: Defoe was prosecuted for seditious libel and was arrested in May 1703. The advertisement offering a reward for his capture gives the only extant personal description of Defoe—an unflattering one, which annoyed him considerably: It is likely that the prosecution was primarily political, an attempt to force him into betraying certain Whig leaders; but the attempt was evidently unsuccessful.

In An Appeal to Honour and Justice 1715he gave his own, self-justifying account of these events and of other controversies in his life as a writer. Triumph or not, Defoe was led back to Newgate, and there he remained while his Tilbury business collapsed and he became ever more desperately concerned for the welfare of his already numerous family.

1660 - 1731

Defoe certainly served his masters with zeal and energy, traveling extensively, writing reports, minutes of advice, and pamphlets. He paid several visits to Scotland, especially at the time of the Act of Union in 1707, keeping Harley closely in touch with public opinion.

These trips bore fruit in a different way two decades later: He wrote this serious, forceful, and long-lived paper practically single-handedly from 1704 to 1713. At first a weekly, it became a thrice-weekly publication in 1705, and Defoe continued to produce it even when, for short periods in 1713, his political enemies managed to have him imprisoned again on various pretexts. Later life and works.

At about this time, too perhaps prompted by a severe illnesshe wrote the best known and most popular of his many didactic works, The Family Instructor 1715. The writings so far mentioned, however, would not necessarily have procured literary immortality for Defoe; this he achieved when in 1719 he turned his talents to an extended work of prose fiction and drawing partly on the memoirs of voyagers and castaways such as Alexander Selkirk produced Robinson Crusoe.

Here as in his works of the remarkable year 1722, which saw the publication of Moll FlandersA Journal of the Plague Yearand Colonel Jack Defoe displays his finest gift as a novelist—his insight into human nature.

The men and women he writes about are all, it is true, placed in unusual circumstances; they are all, in one sense or another, solitaries; they all struggle, in their different ways, through a life that is a constant scene of jungle warfare; they all become, to some extent, obsessive. His novels are given verisimilitude by their matter-of-fact style and their vivid concreteness of detail; the latter may seem unselective, but it effectively helps to evoke a particular, circumscribed world.

Daniel Defoe

Legacy A man of many talents and author of an extraordinary range and number of works, Defoe remains in many ways an enigmatic figure. A man who made many enemies, he has been accused of double-dealing, of dishonest or equivocal conduct, of venality. But Defoe always claimed that the end justified the means, and a more sympathetic view may see him as what he always professed to be, an unswerving champion of moderation. At the age of 59 Defoe embarked on what was virtually a new career, producing in Robinson Crusoe the first of a remarkable series of novels and other fictional writings that resulted in his being called the father of the English novel.