Daniel Defoe: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Daniel Defoe.

  • Daniel Defoe was an English writer, journalist and spy. He is best known for writing one of the most famous books of all time, Robinson Crusoe.
  • He was born in London in about 1660. His family home was one of the lucky ones that were left standing when the Great Fire of London destroyed much of the city in 1666.

  • On leaving school, Defoe sold wool, wine and other goods. He was not a successful trader and he was bankrupt by 1692. It took him 10 years to settle his debts.

Daniel Defoe

  • In a 1702 essay published anonymously, Daniel Defoe made fun of the Church. However, he was identified and sent to prison. He was later offered a job as a government agent.
  • Defoe witnessed the Great Storm of 1703, which killed about 8,000 people and damaged much of London. He wrote about it in a later book, one of the earliest examples of journalism.
  • Robinson Crusoe was written in 1719. It was partly based on the true story of a Scottish sailor, Alexander Selkirk, who was shipwrecked for 4 years on a small South Pacific island.
  • Defoe’s other incredibly famous novel was Moll Flanders, written in 1722.
  • He also wrote non-fiction books on such diverse subjects as British travel, highwaymen, pirates and the Scottish church.
  • It is estimated that Daniel Defoe used almost 200 pen names during his lifetime. One of his books, a fictitious journal about the Plague, was so well written that for many years it was believed to be true.
  • There have been several film versions of Robinson Crusoe, and many novels were inspired by it. The classic 1960s TV show Lost in Space was also based on the story.
  • Daniel Defoe died in 1791. He was buried in Bunhill Fields, London, where many other artists, writers and poets are buried.

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