Daniel Defoe (1660–1731), famous for Robinson Crusoe (1719), was an entrepreneur, spy, journalist, poet, and writer of fictions who has hundreds of works to his name. His enormous output covered economics, politics, religion, trade, history, superstition, marriage and sex, family conduct, piracy, servants, gentlemanliness and royal education. His writing fame was ensured by the satirical poem The True-Born Englishman (1701), but his most outstanding publication was the thrice-weekly Review, for which he was the sole writer and which ran from 1704 to 1713. He turned to fiction late in life beginning with Robinson Crusoe (and the sequels The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe in 1719 and The Serious Reflections… of Robinson Crusoe in 1720). Other fictions include Moll Flanders, A Journal of the Plague Year, Colonel Jack (all in 1722) and Roxana (1724). Born into a Presbyterian family, Defoe’s politics are harder to pin down; indeed his contemporaries accused him of being a hack for hire, but he was certainly anti-Jacobite. If he had one defining interest, it was trade, and throughout his prolific writing career he was fascinated with the changing and charged atmosphere of the economic success story that was England in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
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Stephen H. Gregg
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