The writer of the renowned novel Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe, was a British journalist, writer, and trader. He became famous for his various stories, and among those, Robinson Crusoe brought laurels to him. He was such a prolific writer that he wrote over 300 books, periodicals, novels and pamphlets on different subjects.
All of our readers might be familiar with Daniel Defoe, but you might not be aware of some of the interesting facts which we’ve gathered for you about him in this article.
Daniel Defoe: 8 facts about a great and versatile writer
1. His real name is Daniel Foe
Daniel was born in the year 1660, but the exact day and month are unknown. His actual name was Daniel Foe. The word ‘De’ was added to his second name as prefix later, and in French, it is meant for affectation, an interesting fact about Daniel Defoe. He was around five years old when the Great Plague event took place in 1665. He documented that year on various occasions in his fiction and non-fiction writing. A year later, in 1666, he escaped unhurt during a dangerous fire that broke out in his neighborhood in London. Several houses were burnt, and only Defoe’s and two other houses were intact.
2. Defoe narrowly escaped from being hanged to death
At the Monmouth Rebellion in the year 1685, Defoe fought on the rebels’ side, but they were defeated, and the remaining rebels were captured and sentenced to death. Defoe narrowly escaped from the sentence. Judge George Jeffreys of Bloody Assizes awarded the death sentence.
In the same year, Queen Marry and her spouse, William III, were crowned as British rulers, and Defoe was a close confidant of William. In the year 1692, Defoe was arrested for his debt worth of 700 British Pounds with the royal treasury.
3. All of his business schemes failed
Defoe started numerous business ventures, and all of them failed miserably, an unfortunate fact about Daniel Defoe. When he left school, he used to sell wine, wool, and several other merchandises. One of his business schemes was to collect musk from the bottom of cats. He attempted to make it an enterprise business. Unfortunately, he failed in all of his business ventures, and none of the schemes were successful, and he got bankrupt in 1692. He almost worked for over 10 years to pay off his debts.
He married Mary Tuffley, daughter of a British merchant. Mary brought a dowry worth of 3,700 British Pounds, and it was considered as an expensive dowry of that time. It was believed that because of Defoe’s financial challenges, the marriage would not last long, but it lasted for 47 long years, and the couple had 8 children.
He traveled to Scotland and other European countries and tried to establish a trading business. In 1695, he returned to England and attempted to resume trading activities. He set up a tile and brick factory in 1696, in the city which is now, Essex. On various occasions, he got employed by the British crown but was terminated.
4. Daniel Defoe was placed in a pillory for one of his satirical pamphlets
Daniel Defoe was put in a pillory in the year 1703 for his satirical pamphlet, The Shortest Way with the Dissenters. In this pamphlet, he attacked the English religious dissenters. A sedition case was initiated against him, and he was found guilty due to his writing. As a punishment, the court ordered to lock him in pillory and release before a crowd of people for humiliation. When he was released for humiliation in public in a pillory, the crowd did not abuse or hurled stones at him. They showered him with flowers and chanted slogans in favor of Defoe due to his publication, Hymn to the Pillory.
Some scholars doubt this event, but according to John Robert Moore, no one in Britain acclaimed so much popularity in a pillory except Defoe.
5. This writer wrote two follow-ups to his novel Robinson Crusoe
After the success of his novel, Robinson Crusoe, Defoe speedily wrote two more novels after it. The first novel named The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe was released in 1720, while another novel called Serious Reflections of Robinson Crusoe was released later the same year. The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe is about Crusoe’s return and his expeditions to Madagascar, Siberia, and other Pacific countries. Meanwhile, Serious Reflections of Robinson Crusoe comprises the earlier works done by Defoe, and they have been released under the Robinson Crusoe series.
6. He witnessed the great storm of 1703
Defoe was an eye-witness of the great storm of 1703 in which over 8,000 casualties were reported, and it destroyed the majority of Bristol and London. The storm was so devastating that it uprooted trees and damaged homes and buildings. He mentioned this storm in one of his writings, The Storm, which was published later.
7. Defoe used around 200 pen names during his life
Defoe had written various publications, and it is said that he used around 200 different pen names for all his publications during his lifetime, an interesting Daniel Defoe fact.
8. Daniel Defoe died after suffering from lethargy
Daniel Defoe died on April 24, 1731, while he was living a life after hiding from his creditors. It is believed that he was suffering from lethargy. Some historians have mentioned that he suffered a stroke, which became the cause of his death. During his life, he remained indebted on various occasions. He was buried in Bunhill Fields Burial, and the British government erected a monument in the year 1870 in his memory.
Defoe died with a very little fortune, and he remained entrapped in financial lawsuits and debt. Some historians have proved with evidence that his business dealings while he was a merchant and elsewhere were never honest.
These were some of the amazing things which you might never have heard about Defoe. On one occasion, during the Unification in 1707, he was offered an advisory job in the Church of Scotland and the Scottish Parliament. After his appointment, he used his influence for amalgamation of Scotland and to suppress the rioters, who opposed it.
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