Biography of Daniel Defoe (1660-1731)

English writer, born in London in September, 1660 and died in main completo Alley (Moorfields, London) 24 April 1731, who wrote one of the most widely read around the world adventure novels: Robinson Crusoe (1719). He/She was one of the great pioneers of English literature and a sharp essayist and observer of the political and social reality of the time, who knew how to see clearly the thrust of the bourgeoisie and the sinking of the nobility.


Son of a merchant who worried more than teach you was the the ins and outs of the business than the rest of their education. But much improved when he/she decided to become a priest and entered a seminary of the Presbyterian Church. By 1681, already well met the twenty years, he/she acknowledged that he/she had no religious vocation and abandoned this career.

Following the example of his father, he/she decided to become a dealer, for he/she had a good instinct for business and was adventurer character (what encouraged him to embark on risky businesses).

On the occasion of these businesses, he/she traveled to various countries in Europe (Spain, France, Italy and Germany) and expanded their cultural knowledge. On his return to England, he/she opened a haberdashery in London, and in 1684, he/she married Mary Tuffley (which was to have seven children).

Then became owner (i.e., owner of a fleet of boats), but almost all adventures as a businessman were to be ruinous. For a time he/she had to flee to France, hounded by creditors (owed much money).

At the time that was failing in all their businesses, Daniel Defoe was interested for politics and journalism. Declared enemy of King Jacobo II and took part in a revolt against him.

In 1695 he/she came to occupy a position in the Government, and thereafter lived in his writings. He/She was the author of booklets and newspaper articles in which defending his ideas and was as a man that is very advanced in its time.

He defended the right of women to receive the same education as men; In addition, criticized their compatriots who were believed to be superior to human beings of other races, and pointed out the defects in the Church.

By these libelous was arrested and convicted; but thanks to the House of Commons he/she was released. Throughout his life he/she was pursued and sentenced on many occasions, sometimes for debts that leave after ruining their business, and sometimes for political reasons.

In his political career he/she showed a great honesty, since he/she started belonging to the whig party and then joined the ranks of his rival, the tory. But then he/she betrayed also this second party, since, within their ranks, it acted as a secret agent of the whig Government.

In 1704, he/she founded the newspaper The Review, where he/she soon excelled as an outstanding journalist. He/She is considered one of the founders of modern journalism in England.

As a writer, he/she continued to write articles and tracts of large resonance; but it was not truly famous until now on the verge of reaching the age of sixty, published his great novel Robinson Crusoe (1719).

From then on, he/she devoted his old age to write novels and became one of the large early 18th-century English writers.


Daniel Defoe is one of the founders of the adventure novel. But his novels are not a mere entertainment based on the action and adventure. Your hero Robinson Crusoe represents the struggle for life and represents the thrust of the social class to which belonged to Defoe: the middle-class or middle class, which becomes the true engine of the economics and politics of England (as opposed to the backwardness of the nobility) in those years.

Daniel Defoe has become the history of universal literature works written in his old age. It was then when it truly triumphed as a novelist, since he/she had earlier shone most by his poems, essays and newspaper articles.

In its stage of maturity, Defoe revealed it as a great novelist, able to narrate the various adventures and, at the same time, criticize these works into English society (and, in general, European) of his time. His most important novels of this stage are: Robison Crusoe and Moll Flanders.

Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe (1719), whose original title is life and extraordinary and prodigious adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Navigator (The Life and strange surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe and), is a masterpiece of the adventure novel. Defoe tells the story of a man who, since his youth, feel the need to live extraordinary experiences. This character, Robinson Crusoe, embarks on several occasions and, after suffering many hardships (sinks, falls prisoner of pirates, etc), is left alone on an island that has to manage every day to survive. There he/she saves life an Indian who was chased by cannibals; his new companion (which Robinson baptizes with the name of Friday) learn their language and customs and becomes something like the servant of the Castaway.

But Daniel Defoe was not limited, in this story, retold with great success a series of entertaining and exciting adventures. Also, his work presents a critical view of the English society of his time. Crusoe represents the thrust of the social class that is being done with the control of the country, the bourgeoisie: as these powerful bourgeoisie, the protagonist of the novel by Defoe is enterprising and hardworking, and known face problems with great common sense. Meanwhile, the nobility is neglected, is lazy and does not abandon the ancient ideas of the past (religious intolerance, political absolutism, etc.).

The success of Robinson Crusoe was due both for its simple style, direct, concrete, as by the creation of a hero in which any ordinary person could recognize. The theme of the work is the struggle for life, where the individual is confident in his own forces and a God to the human measure that helps, does not help. Robinson has thirst for adventure, industriousness, greed, average intelligence, acute observation, everything that represents the rise of the Middle bourgeoisie and the decline of the nobility landowner.

Moll Flanders

Moll Flanders (1722) is another masterpiece, in which stands out the ability to Defoe to describe the customs of their nation (is considered, in fact, the first novel of customs of literature English). Here, the protagonist is a woman, very determined and adventurous.

Other works

In its first stage as a writer, Defoe wrote, among other works: essay on projects, which anticipates the rational thought of the enlightened and proposes some ideas to achieve a more just society; The real English, a satirical poem against racism and against those who believe in the superiority of one nation over others; The shortest way with the dissenters, a libel which denounces the intolerance of the Church, so it was arrested and convicted, and history of the Union.

In the final stage of his life he/she wrote other narrations, as memories of a Knight, the captain Singleton, diary of the year of the plague, Colonel Jack and Lady Roxana

Other works are: A trip around the island of Great Britain (1724), stories of pirates (1724-1728) and the perfect English merchant (1725-1727).