Henson & His Works

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe was born in London in 1660. After many years of studying for the ministry, Daniel decided that a religious life did not suit him. He chose, instead, to become a merchant.

He traveled widely and built up a successful business. During this period, he married and started raising a family.

But in 1692 his business failed, leaving the 32-year-old Defoe heavily in debt, with a wife and six children to support. Since he had always been interested in politics, he tried making his living by writing political articles for newspapers. These articles often criticized the king and the ruling party. As a result, Defoe spent many years in and out of prison.

Since his political writings had brought only troubles and increasing debts, Defoe turned to fiction writing. His first novel written in 1719 when Defoe was nearly sixty years old, was to become one of the best known adventure stories in the world. That novel was Robinson Crusoe--a story which still thrills readers today, more than two hundred fifty years later.

Robinson Crusoe brought Defoe great success and helped him pay back part of his debts. He continued writing novels such as Moll Flanders, Colonel Jack, and two other Robinson Crusoe stories, but his creditors always seemed to be one step behind him.

During his last years, Defoe was a sick, lonely old man, hunted by his creditors and abandoned by his ungrateful children. He died in 1731 at the age of 71, as alone and frightened as his hero, Robinson, had been during his 28 years on a deserted island.

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