"Wherever God erects a house of prayer, The devil always builds a chapel there, And't will be found, upon examination, The latter has the largest congregation" (Defoe, The True-Born Englishman. Part I. Line1). Daniel Defoe was a man of many beliefs, from political to spiritual he was complex in his values. He was roughly a merchant, soldier, factory owner, bankrupt, spy, pamphleteer, convict, journalist, editor, politically disruptive writer, and novelist. However to this day, his life and works are an interesting and remarkable topic for the curious to delve into.
Defoe's upbringing can be described as none other than humble. He was born to a butcher named James Foe in Stoke Newington, London, England. His family was that of Dissenters. Dissenters could be described as Protestants that did not adhere to the doctrine of the Church of England. Because of his family's refusal to pledge an oath of allegiance to the Church, he could not attend Oxford. However, Defoe still managed to receive a good education at Newington Green. He enjoyed the life of a merchant for many years, however after going bankrupt in 1692 the realm of politics seemed to intrigue him. His political interests were not always to his benefit because of his direct way of expressing himself. He wrote many significant political journals,however it was his 1702 pamphlet, "The Shortest Way with the Dissenters," that truly brought his audience into an uproar. He was pilloried and jailed because of this pamphlet, and during his stay in jail he wrote many other political pieces. Even after his release he continued to write politically for his newspaper, "The Review," from 1704 until1713. During his lifetime he had been associated with 26 periodicals. During this time he also conducted intelligence for both the Tories as well as the Whigs. (Knowledgerush)
Not only was Daniel Defoe a great pamphleteer and journalist, after his political interest subsided he wrote many famous novels which are still read and enjoyed today. In 1719 he wrote, "Robinson Crusoe," a famous novel which tells of a man's shipwreck on a desert island and his consequent adventures. This novel had two less famous sequels to follow. Another famous novel of Defoe's was Moll Flanders, a charming first person narrative of the fall and redemption of a 17th century English woman. She appears to be an immoral adulteress, but she manages to keep the readers sympathy throughout the novel. (Knowledgerush) Defoe surprisingly continued to write all the way through his last days. There is not much known about his last few months, but it is suggested that his family was distressed and he felt the need to separate from them and take refuge in London. He died on April 26, 1731 of a lethargy at his lodgings in Ropemaker's alley, Moorfields. Despite the many unknown facts about his last years his many writings carry on his legacy. (Bartleby)
One of his more significant works titled, "A True Relation of the Apparition of...