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Daniel Defoe (1660–1731)

Author of Robinson Crusoe

792+ Works 45,660 Members 630 Reviews 45 Favorited

About the Author

Daniel Defoe was born Daniel Foe in London, England on September 13, 1660. He changed his surname in 1703, adding the more genteel "De" before his own name to suggest a higher social standing. He was a novelist, journalist, and political agent. His writings covered a wide range of topics. His show more novels include Robinson Crusoe, Moll Flanders, Roxana, Captain Singleton, and Colonel Jack. He wrote A Tour Thro' the Whole Island of Great Britain, which is an important source of English economic life, and ghost stories including A True Relation of the Apparition of One Mrs. Veal. He also wrote satirical poems and pamphlets and edited a newspaper. He was imprisoned and pilloried for his controversial work, The Shortest Way with the Dissenters, which suggested that all non-Conformist ministers be hanged. He died on April 24, 1731. (Bowker Author Biography) show less


Works by Daniel Defoe

Robinson Crusoe (1994) 23,292 copies
Moll Flanders (1722) 7,695 copies
A Journal of the Plague Year (1722) 3,605 copies
Robinson Crusoe 1,700 copies
Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress (1724) 1,252 copies
Captain Singleton (1720) 323 copies
Robinson Crusoe [Abridged] (1719) 239 copies
Colonel Jack (1722) 144 copies
Memoirs of a Cavalier (1720) 119 copies
The Storm (1704) 117 copies
The King of Pirates (1719) 88 copies
100 Eternal Masterpieces of Literature - volume 2 (2020) — Contributor — 71 copies
From London to Land's End (2003) 48 copies
Contos de Fantasmas (1945) 31 copies
Opere (1980) 26 copies
Dickory Cronke (2004) 19 copies
An Essay Upon Projects (1975) 18 copies
The Consolidator (1705) 17 copies
A system of magick (1726) 14 copies
Robinson Crusoe (1995) 13 copies
Atalantis Major (2009) 13 copies
Libertalia (1998) 12 copies
A Vindication of the Press (2007) 11 copies
Robinson Crusoe (1719) — Author — 10 copies
Of Captain Mission (2012) 10 copies
Mother Ross (2011) 7 copies
Robinson Crusoe (1900) 6 copies
Moll Flanders 6 copies
Veba Yılı Günlüğü (2016) 6 copies
Robinson Crusoe I (1996) 6 copies
HISTORIA DEL DIABLE (2007) 5 copies
Vite di pirati (2004) 5 copies
Robinson Crusoe Publisher (1989) 5 copies
Works of Daniel Defoe (2008) 5 copies
Robinson Crusoe [adapted - Saddleback Classics] (1999) — Original Author — 5 copies
The Works of Daniel Defoe (1905) 4 copies
Robinson Crusoe IC1 4 (2015) 4 copies
Robinson Crusoe (2011) 4 copies
Diário do ano da peste (2020) 4 copies
Moll Flanders: A musical (1994) 4 copies
Robinson Crusoe 1 Y 2 (1998) 4 copies
Daniel Defoe (2017) 3 copies
Kaptan Singleton (2021) 3 copies
Kurze Geschichte der pfälzischen Flüchtlinge (2017) — Author — 3 copies
Robinson Crusoe 3 copies
A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain (1724) — Author — 2 copies
Seikkailu Afrikassa (1981) 2 copies
Robinson Cruso Annotated (2020) 2 copies
Robinson Crusoe (1999) 2 copies
Inno alla gogna (2008) 2 copies
The master mercury (1977) 2 copies
Robinson Crusoe 2 copies
Robinson Crusoe (2022) 1 copy
(all) 1 copy
coronel jack 1 copy
Robinson Crusoé (1719) — Author — 1 copy
Mol Flanders 1 copy
Albay Jack (2023) 1 copy
Himno a la Picota (2015) 1 copy
Works, Volume 3 (2012) 1 copy
Robinson Crusoe II (1981) 1 copy
The Education of Women (1990) 1 copy
Defoe Daniel 1 copy
The Best Ghost Stories (2007) 1 copy
Godine kuge (2020) 1 copy
Selections 1 copy
MOLL FLANDERS & CO (1964) 1 copy
Defoe 1 copy
ROBINSON CRUSOE (1972) 1 copy

Associated Works

English Essays: From Sir Philip Sidney to Macaulay (1909) — Contributor — 480 copies
Eighteenth-Century English Literature (1969) — Author — 187 copies
Great Stories of the Sea & Ships (1940) — Contributor — 174 copies
Irish Tales of Terror (1988) — Contributor — 126 copies
Phantastic Book of Ghost Stories (1990) — Contributor — 111 copies
Best in Children's Books 27 (1959) 93 copies
The Treasury of English Short Stories (1985) — Contributor — 85 copies
Famous Ghost Stories (A Watermill Classic) (1980) — Contributor — 84 copies
The Bedside Book of Famous British Stories (1940) — Contributor — 67 copies
Great Ghost Stories: Tales of Mystery and Madness (2004) — Contributor — 51 copies
Tales by Moonlight II (1988) — Contributor — 46 copies
Poetry of Witness: The Tradition in English, 1500-2001 (2014) — Contributor — 42 copies
The Best Ghost Stories (1919) — Contributor — 34 copies
The Mystery Book (1934) — Contributor — 29 copies
The Great Book of Thrillers (1935) — Contributor — 27 copies
Robinson Crusoe [1954 film] (1954) — original story author; Original novel — 26 copies
Strange Lands: Short Stories (2020) — Contributor — 26 copies
Eighteenth Century Women: An Anthology (1984) — Contributor — 23 copies
Masters of British Literature, Volume A (2007) — Contributor — 21 copies
Great English Short Stories (1930) — Contributor — 20 copies
The Ribald Reader: 2000 Years of Lusty Love and Laughter (1906) — Contributor — 18 copies
Ghosts and Marvels (1924) — Contributor — 17 copies
Wild Night Company: Irish Tales of Terror (1970) — Contributor — 17 copies
The Fourteenth Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (1978) — Contributor — 11 copies
Englische Essays aus drei Jahrhunderten (1980) — Contributor — 10 copies
Fifty Strangest Stories Ever Told (1937) — Contributor — 8 copies
The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders [1965 film] (1992) — Original novel — 6 copies
An English garner : ingatherings from our history and literature — Contributor, some editions — 5 copies
Famous Stories of Five Centuries (1934) — Contributor — 4 copies
West Country Short Stories (1949) — Contributor — 2 copies
The Undying Past (1961) — Contributor — 2 copies
The Queen’s Story Book — Contributor — 2 copies
Later Stuart Tracts. An English Garner. (1964) — Contributor — 2 copies
The Childrens Classics Collection (6 Full Cast Audio Dramas) (2012) — Author, some editions — 1 copy
Gespenster — Contributor — 1 copy
The Adventures Of The Great Crime-Busters (1943) — Contributor — 1 copy


1001 (143) 1001 books (161) 17th century (200) 18th century (1,171) 18th century literature (164) adventure (934) anthology (177) British (365) British literature (547) castaway (138) children's (138) classic (1,322) classic fiction (143) classic literature (276) classics (1,514) Daniel Defoe (158) Defoe (174) ebook (260) England (380) English (308) English literature (888) fiction (4,501) Folio Society (225) historical fiction (282) history (519) Kindle (282) literature (1,198) London (213) non-fiction (237) novel (897) own (146) pirates (188) plague (195) read (297) Roman (130) shipwreck (215) survival (348) to-read (1,211) travel (149) unread (248)

Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Defoe, Daniel
Legal name
Foe, Daniel
Date of death
Burial location
Bunhill Fields Cemetery, London, England, UK
Country (for map)
London, England
Place of death
London, England, Great Britain
Cause of death
lethargy (official cause)
stroke (speculated cause)
Places of residence
London, England, Great Britain
Dorking, Surrey, England
Chadwell St Mary, Essex, England, Great Britain
Newington Green Dissenting Academy
brick and tile works owner
rebel (show all 7)
Commissioner of the Glass Duty
Monmouth Rebellion
Short biography
Daniel Defoe; c. 1660 – 24 April 1731), born Daniel Foe, was an English trader, writer, journalist, pamphleteer and spy. He is most famous for his novel Robinson Crusoe. Defoe wrote many political tracts and was often in trouble with the authorities, and spent a period in prison.



A Journal of The Plague Year in Folio Society Devotees (October 2022)


“All of our discontents for what we want appear to me to spring from want of thankfulness for what we have.”

I read Robinson Crusoe as it is one of the classics, and I could not be certain if I had read it as a child or not. Written by Puritan Englishman Daniel Defoe, many consider this to be the first English novel. It was published in 1719, but set in the 1650s to 1680s. The book was a great success and became one of the most widely published books in history.

The story has since been thought to be based on the life of Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish castaway, who lived for four years on a Pacific island called "Más a Tierra", now part of Chile. It was originally penned under the name Robinson Crusoe and thus mistakenly thought to be a true story.

Robinson leaves Yorkshire as a young man, against his father’s wishes, to go to sea. He encounters a huge storm, is miserable and shipwrecked and swears to never to go to sea again. But after getting drunk with some sailors decides he is born to be a sailor and heads off again. This time he is captured by pirates and forced to become a slave. After a few years of harsh treatment he escapes with a boy called Xury, and despite having had firsthand experience and reason to empathise with the lot of slaves Crusoe decides to make Xury his slave. He sells Xury to the captain of a Portuguese ship and makes his way to Brazil with them where he buys a plantation. Having apparently learnt nothing from his experiences about either sailing or slavery he then makes another voyage to get slaves from Africa for his plantation but is shipwrecked.

Robison finds himself on a deserted island off the coast of Venezuela, probably based on Tobago. He manages to salvage goods off the ship and sets himself to building a dwelling, planting corn, domesticating goats and the like. He also finds a Bible and becomes very religious, repenting for all the sins of his youth. He gains insight into the evils of his former life and behaviour and ponders about whether his castaway life is punishment for his sins, although interestingly never seems to have any regrets about his involvement in slavery, which actually has brought him to this point.

He then discovers “barbarous savages” landing on his island to partake in cannibalistic feasting on their enemies. On one of these visits he manages to free the intended victim, names him Friday, and guess what, makes him a slave. Eventually Robinson and Friday assist a marooned captain to regain his ship from mutineers and return to England.

I would have to say I did enjoy the parts describing Crusoe’s survival and challenges, even though this would have been far more impressive and intriguing if it had actually happened. He did seem relatively fortunate as a castaway to have a ship to plunder for goods and a seemingly endless supply of gunpowder, such that he still had a quantity to give away after 28 years.

On the other hand, although I am used to books from previous eras containing racist and colonial attitudes, and I try to view them in their context, in this instance it was extreme. I have read many other older works of fiction that are nowhere near as flagrantly supportive of slavery and entrenched in their belief in white superiority. In fact not too long after the time this book was authored my children’s ancestors were actively engaged in the anti-slavery movement. I kept on reading, waiting for the moment of insight when he realised that “these barbarous savages” were fellow humans and no better or worse than he, but other than learning to appreciate Friday’s nature, he never makes this quantum shift.

The other thing that was disappointing was the anticlimactic nature of his return to England. There is no description of how he felt, how he was received or anything other than an account of his finances. He goes on to wrap up the significant events of his life in one paltry sentence, "In the meantime, I in part settled myself here; for, first of all, I married, and that not either to my disadvantage or dissatisfaction, and had three children, two sons and one daughter; but my wife dying, and my nephew coming home with good success from a voyage to Spain, my inclination to go abroad, and his importunity, prevailed, and engaged me to go in his ship as a private trader to the East Indies; this was in the year 1694.” And off he goes again.

So overall 2.5 stars for me. Respect for penning the first novel, creating the adventure genre, and inspiring the popular imagination about sea-faring voyages, shipwrecks and remote tropical islands. This has spawned many other famous books and films. But the rampant colonialism was a decided negative for me.
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mimbza | 322 other reviews | Apr 27, 2024 |
"A General History of the...Most Notorious Pirates"by Captain Charles Johnson is an absolute must-have for any history-lovers library. It's a near-contemporary account of the lives of the biggest names during the Golden Age of Piracy! For some, it's the only primary source we have!

There are 21 "chapters" in all, in my edition, detailing the life of each pirate. Alongside the usual suspects are Captains Martel, England, Davis, Anstis, Worley, Lowther, Evans, Phillips, Spriggs, Gow, and Philip Roche. Often these pirates would cross paths, sailing from Rhode Island to the Carolinas to the West Indies and beyond. Highlights include an attempted slave revolt in Madagascar; a list of Blackbeard's and Bonnet's crewmen; the Indian pirate Angria; a substantial description of the Islands of St. Thomas and Brazil; an accommodating Quaker; the destruction of Port Royal and the fate of Capt. Walter Kennedy. The latter is mentioned in my St Patrick's Day post!

I've had this copy since I was a teenager, and I'm so glad I decided to read it again after so many years. You don't need to be a pirate historian or scholar to appreciate this one. It was written for the general audience of 18th c. England, so accessibility was key. Johnson knew what the public wanted as he blended "accuracy" with shock value. In his intro, Johnson claims that English merchants suffered more [from pirates] than by the united force of France and Spain. Statistically true or not, his readers would've agreed completely. Pirates had an infamous reputation for violence and most actively participated in the slave trade. Thanks to Johnson's dramatic flair, most of our modern conception of pirates comes from A General History, with the possible exception of the works of Robert Louis Stevenson. And yet, even today, we don't know who Johnson was or even if that was their real name.
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asukamaxwell | 9 other reviews | Apr 21, 2024 |
This is an excellent little book. In touching on the human condition, the fear of people in the Plague of 1665, one could not but think of the recent Covid Pandemic of 2019/2020 until 2021/2022. Here, though, Daniel Defoe writes of his being a Londoner staying in the capital through the time of the distemper, and tells of the attitudes of people and the fakery that abounded as people, particularly the poor, sought help as they, too, stayed put. Fake advice and fake remedies were many, swindlers having a hey-day until, of course, many of them died of the pestilence too. The Court moved away to Oxford and the wealthy were able to move to the countryside around London - the poor, though, had nowhere to go and died in their thousands - it is reckoned that over 68,000 died. This is but an extract from Defoe's "A Journal of the Plague Year" but it's an interesting taster - an excellent Penguin 60s Classic.… (more)
lestermay | Apr 4, 2024 |
Sure to offend those who insist on applying 21st century mores to a novel published in 1719, but for the rest of us it is a rip-roaring good adventure and an interesting glimpse into the 18th century worldview. Nice illustrations too.
NurseBob | 322 other reviews | Mar 9, 2024 |


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