About Defoe (1644-1731)

Daniel Defoe, the author of Robinson Crusoe and many other books, was born to Daniel Foe and his wife Ellene  in Etton, Northamptonshire. His putative father, James Foe, was his uncle. Daniel Defoe had two siblings, Mary and Thomas. When his father died in 1647 he was moved into the care of the Parish of St Leonard’s, Lexden, Colchester.

At eighteen years of age (1662) Daniel Defoe went on a version of the Grand Tour with William Penn, the Quaker founder of Pennsylvania and Robert Spencer , the future second Earl Sunderland and Whig statesman. Captured in the Portuguese War of Restoration in 1663, Daniel Defoe was shipped to Brazil as an identured servant on a sugar plantation.

In the period 1670-1680, Defoe was a planter, merchant and slave trader and implicated in piracy. On his return to London in 1680, Defoe was careful to disguise his identity and changed his name from Foe to Defoe.

Defoe developed a career as the foremost propagandist of the Whigs and a journalist of rare talent before an outburst of creative writing in 1719 with the publication of Robinson Crusoe, Moll Flanders and Roxana closely followed by a stream of other works.

Defoe was a religious Dissenter and the supporter of Parliament and the rule of law. and his political writing is polemical and of great interest today. His personal life embraced four wives, eight surviving children and passionate relationships with many men. Defoe died penniless and intestate in 1731 at the ripe old age of eighty seven.