Robinson Crusoe By Daniel Defoe | T A L F T O S-minded
Daniel Defoe was born and grew up in turbulent times. On Defoe's birth, see J.A. Downie's essay "Defoe's Birth," which you can access . We would like to thank Professor Alan Downie and The Scriblerian and the Kit-Cats for their permission to post this essay here. Defoe's youth was marked by the plague, the great fire of London, a series of wars with the Dutch, and the persecution of Dissenters. His adult life would be equally unstable, particularly where financial matters were concerned. After receiving an education at a dissenting academy, Defoe embarked on a series of mercantile ventures, working with a number of different products, ranging from wine to bricks to hosiery. As Maximillian E. Novak has pointed out, this diversification was typical for a business man in a time of a shifting national economy ( 77). Defoe was also a highly active investor, investing funds in such ventures as the perfume trade and in a diving machine. At times he was highly successful, yet at other points in his life his business affairs were in disarray. Defoe experienced several bankruptcies, one in 1692 and another in 1703.
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As Defoe wrote the works that we are most familiar with now— (1719), (1722), (1722), (1722), and (1724)—he was also producing numerous innovative texts in widely varied genres and on very different themes. For example, alongside the significant number of political pamphlets and essays produced, he published travel literature, such as (1724-6), commentaries on religion, such as the satirical (1726), and self-help manuals, like (1715).
Although best known for his , one of the eighteenth century’s major works of fiction, Daniel Defoe actively engaged in the moral and political debates of his time as a poet, essayist, and political pamphleteer.