Daniel Defoe


Daniel Defoe was born in 1660 in London. His father, a well-to-do butcher was wealthy enough to give his son a good education. Daniel was to become a priest in Nonconformist Church, but he decided to engage in business. It was his cherished desire to become wealthy but his wish was never fulfilled. Daniel tried his luck as a hosier and wool-merchant but failed. The only branch of business in which he proved successful was journalism and literature.

Defoe did some commercial travelling in Spain, France, Holland and Italy. He has written some interesting notes about customs and ways of life in the various European countries he visited.

Although Defoe had been journalist for many years, he didn’t begin to write novels until he was in his late fifties. He preferred a business career. Encountering bankruptcy in 1692, Defoe turned to writing.

His early works included verse satire containing ideas for improving society. For his ironic pamphlet Defoe was fined, arrested and sentenced to 7 years of imprisonment. After his release the writer redoubled his activities as a publicist, who stood for the rights of common people.

The year 1719 marked a new period in Defoe’s literary career. He tried his hand at another kind of literature-fiction. His talent was displayed in the works of fiction for which Defoe is remembered, including “Robinson Crusoe”, followed by adventure stories such as ” Captain Singleton”, “Memoirs of a Cavalier” and others. When the first volume of the book was published it became popular at once. The hero of the novel “Robinson Crusoe” was a shipwrecked man who lived on a desert island. Defoe didn’t write his book for children. But every child knows Robinson Crusoe , how he learned to catch goats and to make pots, how he invented an umbrella, found Friday’s footprints, and met with a hundred other adventures. In 1729 Defoe fell ill and in two years he died.

Daniel Defoe wrote many other books, but it is for his “Robinson Crusoe” that he is called ” Father of English Prose”.

It happened one day, about noon, going towards my boat, I was exceedingly surprised with the print of a man’s naked foot on the shore, which was very plain to be seen on the sand. I stood like one thunderstruck, or as if I had seen an apparition. I listened, I looked round me, but I could hear nothing, nor see anything; I went up to a rising ground to look farther; I went up the shore, and down the shore, but it was all one; I could see no other impression but that one. I went to it again to see if there were any more, and to observe if it might not be my fancy; but there was no room for that, for there was exactly the print of a foot-toes, heel, and every part of a foot: how it came thither I knew not, not could I in the least imagine.


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