Best Known For
English novelist, pamphleteer and journalist Daniel Defoe is best known for his novels Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders.
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
Daniel Defoe was born in 1660 in London, England. He became a merchant and participated in several failing businesses, facing bankruptcy and aggressive creditors. He was also a prolific political pamphleteer which landed him in prison for slander. Late in life he turned his pen to fiction and wrote Robinson Crusoe, one of the most widely read and influential novels of all time. Defoe died in 1731.
Daniel Foe, born circa 1660, was the son of James Foe, a London butcher. Daniel later changed his name to Daniel Defoe, wanting to sound more gentlemanly.
Defoe graduated from an academy at Newington Green, run by the Reverend Charles Morton. Not long after, 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 (paying his debts for nearly a decade thereafter), and by 1703, decided to leave the business industry altogether.
Having always been interested in politics, Defoe published his first literary piece, a political pamphlet, in 1683. He continued to write political works, working as a journalist, until the early 1700s. Many of Defoe's works during this period targeted support for King William III, also known as "William Henry of Orange." Some of his most popular works include The True-Born Englishman, which shed light on racial prejudice in England following attacks on William for being a foreigner; and the Review, a periodical that was published from 1704 to 1713, during the reign of Queen Anne, King William II's successor. Political opponents of Defoe's repeatedly had him imprisoned for his writing in 1713.
Defoe took a new literary path in 1719, around the age of 59, when he published Robinson Crusoe, a fiction novel based on several short essays that he had composed over the years. A handful of novels followed soon after—often with rogues and criminals as lead characters—including Moll Flanders, Colonel Jack, Captain Singleton, Journal of the Plague Year and his last major fiction piece, Roxana (1724).
In the mid-1720s, Defoe returned to writing editorial pieces, focusing on such subjects as morality, politics and the breakdown of social order in England. Some of his later works include Everybody's Business is Nobody's Business (1725); the nonfiction essay "Conjugal Lewdness: or, Matrimonial Whoredom" (1727); and a follow-up piece to the "Conjugal Lewdness" essay, entitled "A Treatise Concerning the Use and Abuse of the Marriage Bed."
Defoe died on April 24, 1731.
While little is known about Daniel Defoe's personal life—largely due to a lack of documentation—Defoe is remembered today as a prolific journalist and author, and has been lauded for his hundreds of fiction and nonfiction works, from political pamphlets to other journalistic pieces, to fantasy-filled novels. The characters that Defoe created in his fiction books have been brought to life countless times over the years, in editorial works, as well as stage and screen productions.
© 2013 A+E Networks. All rights reserved.
profile name: Daniel Defoe profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
Famous People Named Daniel 13 people in this group
Like in Gone With the Wind, The Sun Also Rises after Twilight, even in a Pet Cemetary Where the Wild Things Are. But let's not be too morbid and discuss creepy things like The Satanic Verses or try to get an Interview With a Vampire from The Stranger Who Professes 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.' Going round in round like this, you may never know Where the Sidewalk Ends, and that would be unfortunate since Uncle Tom's Cabin is just around the corner...
Okay, we could go on, but we won't torture you. You get the point. Our attempt at creative writing is nothing compared to the imaginative minds of our Famous Fiction Authors Group.
Famous Fiction Authors 412 people in this group
Famous People Who Declared Bankruptcy 16 people in this group