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Daniel Defoe was born in London in 1660. He worked briefly as a hosiery merchant, then as an intelligence agent and political writer. His writings resulted in his imprisonment on several occasions, and earned him powerful friends and enemies. During his lifetime Defoe wrote over two hundred and fifty books, pamphlets and journals and travelled widely in both Europe and the British Isles. Among his most famous works are
Robinson Crusoe (1719),
Moll Flanders (1722) and
A Journal of the Plague Year (1722). Though Defoe was nearly sixty before he began writing fiction, his work is so fundamental to the development of the novel that he is often cited as the first true English novelist. He is also regarded as a founding father of modern journalism and one of the earliest travel writers. Daniel Defoe died in April 1731.
"Never since childhood have I been so thoroughly immersed in a book" -- Jim Crace Financial Times "An 18th-century reader, raised on a high-minded diet of elegy and pastoral, must have felt stunned on first encountering the jagged prose of a Daniel Defoe, with its street-wise populism and delight in the commonplace" -- Terry Eagleton "Robinson Crusoe has a universal appeal, a story that goes right to the core of existence" -- Simon Armitage Guardian "Defoe should surely be credited with inventing the English novel" Mail on Sunday "Defoe was an imaginative genius" -- John Carey Sunday Times