Daniel Defoe (resume life and works)


Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe, or Daniel Foe, was born in 1660 into a family of Dissenters that refused the authority of the Church of England. He studied at Newington Green, in one of the best Dissenting Academies.
He started to write in Whig papers and here he published a periodical, “The Review”, two or three times a week from 1704 to 1713.

He became a famous and well-paid intellectual, till the reign of Queen Anne. The Queen didn’t like his critical attitude and had him arrested and imprisoned.
He denied his Whig ideas so has to be freed and became a secret agent for the new government.
Then, in 1719, he published his first novel, Robinson Crusoe, and subsequently Captain Singleton, Moll Flanders, Colonel Jack, The Fortunate Mistress (better known as Roxana).
He had a confortable life, thanks to the money he earned with these works, and he died in 1731.

Structure of the novels

Defoe’s works are always true autobiographies, they are also preceded by a preface by the author which stresses their authenticity.
The structure of the novel is characterised by a series of episodes and adventures held together by the presents of a single hero.


The characters usually appear in isolation, in their struggle for survival or daily bread, like Robinson Crusoe or Moll Flanders.
His narrative technique was original and became the basis for the development of the realistic novel.



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