Daniel Defoe (c.1660-1731) was an English writer of the early modern era, best remembered for his 1719 novel Robinson Crusoe. However, Defoe was also a noted journalist, pamphleteer, and spy, producing more than 500 books and pamphlets during his career. Most notably, he was one of the first proponents of the novel as a serious literary form.
Daniel Defoe was born Daniel Foe in London, adding the prefix “De” to his last name. His exact birth place and year remain uncertain, with most scholars accepting 1660. His first career was a general merchant. After the Glorious Revolution of 1688, he became a close confident of, and secret agent for, King William III. With the ascension of Queen Anne in 1702, Defoe became a political target, largely as the result of his pamphleteering. For a short while he was imprisoned at Newgate Prison, before securing a pardon.
It was at this point that Daniel Defoe turned his attention to the novel, producing Robinson Crusoe in 1719, based on the real life adventures of Alexander Selkirk, who was marooned on an island in the South Pacific for several years. Other notable novels by Daniel Defoe include Memoirs of a Cavalier (1720), A Journal of the Plague Year (1722) and Moll Flanders (1722). Despite gaining literary fame, Daniel Defoe was frequently deeply in debt. He died in April 1731 while hiding from his creditors. His remains are interred at Bunhill Fields in Islington, London.