Daniel Waidelich Biography of Daniel Defoe: Born in 1660 as Daniel Foe, he was the son of a London citizen who supported a religious sect outside the official Church of England. Such men, called Dissenters suffered certain penalties, they were, for example, debarred from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and so from qualifying for the learned professions. Daniel Foe was educated at a Dissenting academy. A fellow-pupil of his was Timothy Cruso, whose name Foe recalled nearly fifty years afterwards. He put himself to trade and was described as merchant when he married in 1684. Defoe?s occupation - he had a shop in knitting wares was to be overshadowed by his political and religious engagement. In 1685 he took part in the rebellion against the Catholic Stuart King Jacob II, and gave his support to the tolerant Protestant William III. In 1701 he supported king William III. with The Trueborn Englishman, for William, a Dutchman who gained the crown in 1688 because his wife was the deposed James II. sister provoked hostility through favours shown to his Dutch followers. In this set of verses Defoe sets out his judgement on misconceived patriotism. His enterprises required long journeys in Britain and on the Continent; like his fictional heroes he knew the world. Like Robinson he was ambitious and also overadventurous. His fortunes varied. In 1694 Foe added the De to suggest higher status. Writing for conservative publications Defoe spied for the liberal Government. Many believe him to be an unreliable opportunist. Between 1697 and 1701 Defoe served as a secret agent for William III. in England and Scotland, and between 1703 and 1714 for Harley and other ministers. (When I read this point I asked myself whether there was any English writer in the 17th century who did not serve as a secret agent for example: Marlowe, Shakespeare) Defoe was a pamphleteer, a journalist and a novel-writer. His literary work covers an almost incredible number of publications: He wrote about 500 books on a wide variety of topics, including politics, geography, crime, religion, economics (for example the Complete English Tradesman), marriage, psychology and superstition. 1702 Defoe wrote the brilliant pamphlet The Shortest Way with the Dissenters. This parodied a bigoted churchman urging savage punishments for Dissenters. For that pamphlet Defoe was sentenced to be pilloried. He refused to hide away and published the Hymn to the Pillory. Because of this hymn he was worshipped as a hero by the crowd, among whom the hymn was selling rapidly.
Yet the affair bankrupted his business. In 1704, deriving the benefit of his large experience and many connections, Defoe set up the weekly journal The Review, and became the world s first journalist. Defoe?s later, fictional prose is situated at the beginning of the novelistic tradition. Let me mention the The fortunes and misfortunes of the famous Moll Flanders (1722) , a ...
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