Biography Daniel Defoe
- Time Period1660 - 1731
Educated at An Academy for Dissenters, his father intending for him to become a Presbyterian minister
Worked in the hosiery trade and attempted several entrepreneurial schemes: marine insurance, the breeding of civet cats (he was jailed for debt, as well as for his satirical pamphlet larded with Swiftian irony, 'The Shortest Way with Dissenters'). He fought in the Duke of Monmouth's 1685 rebellion, and was later involved in political intriguing, writing for the Tory press while spying for the Whig government.
Defoe boosted his living with the ever-popular 'last words' of condemned criminals about to be hung, writing them himself and smuggling the pages into Newgate so they could later be handed to him in full view of the voracious and veracity-hungry crowds.
As well as the realist novel, he also invented - and swiftly fictionalised - the 'eye witness' school of journalism with A Journal of the Plague Year (utterly convincing, though he was born after it ended) and A True Relation of the Apparition of One Mrs Veal, based on a contemporary ghost story.