Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) was born in London, the son of a butcher and candlestick merchant. Initially he became a businessman but eventually went bankrupt...twice...so he turned to writing. Some scholars have attributed at least 570 works to him, though more recently other scholars have reexamined this and removed many of the works from the list, saying these attributions were based solely on very weak internal evidence. Still, Defoe was a very prolific writer. Much of his work was political and satirical, and one of his pamphlets even landed him in prison for three months. For twenty-five years he earned his income primarily from writing for newspapers and he even published his own periodical single-handedly for nine years. His first love was politics and he was very involved with the different political parties, for a while writing for one while he was actually a secret agent for the other. For the last twelve years of his life he focused on writing books and he is now primarily remembered as a novelist. His best known novels are Moll Flanders (1721) and Robinson Crusoe (1919). Some claim he's also the author of A General History of the Robberies and Murder of the Most Notorious Pyrates, but this is still hotly debated.

Robinson Crusoe was one of the first English novels, as well as being one of the world's most popular adventure stories. It was first published by William Taylor on April 25, 1719. The original title was The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, mariner: Who lived Eight and Twenty Years, all alone in an uninhabited Island on the Coast of America, near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque; Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, wherein all the Men perished but himself. With an Account how he was at last as strangely deliver'd by Pyrates. Written by Himself. It was an immediate success and went through four editions in four months.

The second volume, The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, Being the Second and Last Part of His Life, was published in August of 1719. Twelve months later a sequel was published entitled Serious Reflections during the Life and Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. This was a collection of moral essays. While the latter two books are essentially unknown, Robinson Crusoe has been published in hundreds of editions and scores of languages.

Here is the first of the three books. This is the text of the original edition, with the exception of including the chapter breaks that were added to later editions. While this book was not originally broken up into chapters, we find them helpful so we too have added them.

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Daniel Defoe