Daniel Defoe, orig. Daniel Foe, (born 1660, London, Eng.- died April 24, 1731, London) was a British novelist, a pamphleteer, and a journalist.
A well-educated London merchant, he became an acute economic theorist and began to write eloquent, witty, often audacious tracts on public affairs.
The satire that he published resulted in his being imprisoned in 1703, and his business collapsed. He traveled as a government secret agent while continuing to write prolifically.
In 1704–13 he wrote practically single-handedly the periodical Review, a serious and forceful paper that influenced later essay periodicals such as The Spectator. His Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain, 3 vol. (1724–26), followed several trips to Scotland. Late in life he turned to fiction.
He achieved literary immortality with the novel Robinson Crusoe (1719), which drew partly on memoirs of voyagers and castaways. He is also remembered for the vivid, picaresque Moll Flanders (1722); the nonfictional Journal of the Plague Year (1722), on the Great Plague in London in 1664–65; and Roxana (1724), a prototype of the modern novel.
2. Robinson Crusoe (1719)
The novel, famously, is about how the title character, Robinson Crusoe, becomes marooned on an island off the north-east coast of South America. As a young man, Crusoe had gone to sea in the hope of making his fortune. Crusoe is on a ship bound for Africa, where he plans to buy slaves for his plantations in South America, when the ship is wrecked on an island and Crusoe is the only survivor.
Alone on a desert island, Crusoe manages to survive thanks to his pluck and pragmatism. He keeps himself sane by keeping a diary, manages to build himself a shelter, and finds a way of salvaging useful goods from the wrecked ship, including guns.
Twelve years pass in this way, until one momentous day, Crusoe finds a single human footprint in the sand! But he has to wait another ten years before he discovers the key to the mystery: natives from the nearby islands, who practices cannibalism, have visited the island, and when they next return, Crusoe attacks them, using his musket salvaged from the shipwreck all those years ago.
He takes one of the natives captive, and names him Man Friday, because – according to Crusoe’s (probably inaccurate) calendar, that’s the day of the week on which they first meet.
Crusoe teaches Man Friday English and converts him to Christianity. When Crusoe learns that Man Friday’s fellow natives are keeping white prisoners on their neighboring island, he vows to rescue them. Together, the two of them build a boat. When more natives attack the island with captives, Crusoe and Friday rescue the captives and kill the natives. The two captives they’ve freed are none other than Friday’s own father and a Spanish man.
Crusoe sends them both off to the other island in the newly made boat, telling them to free the other prisoners. Meanwhile, a ship arrives at the island: a mutiny has taken place on board, and the crew throw the captain and his loyal supporters onto the island. Before the ship can leave, Crusoe has teamed up with the captain and his men, and between them they retake the ship from the mutineers, who settle on the island while Crusoe takes the ship home to England.
Robinson Crusoe has been away from England for many years by this stage – he was marooned on his island for over twenty years – and his parents have died. But he has become wealthy, thanks to his plantations in Brazil, so he gets married and settles down. His wife dies a few years later, and Crusoe – along with Friday – once again leaves home.