A lively, entertaining and authoritative biography of one of the masters of the English language and the first great English journalist and novelist, Daniel Defoe (1660–1731) – best known for Robinson Crusoe (the world bestseller of all time), Moll Flanders, Roxana, A Journal of the Plague Year and A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain.
Daniel Defoe’s life was packed with incident and drama. Born in the year of the Restoration of the Monarchy after the English Civil War, he remained a Nonconformist throughout his life, actively rebelled against James II, travelled the country as a spy for King William and Queen Mary, worked in Scotland on active behalf of the historic Union of Scotland and England, helped launch the South Sea Company, was bankrupted frequently as a businessman, was imprisoned for libel and debt, and died a pauper.
• Spectacularly well-reviewed: ‘lively and entertaining’ Peter Ackroyd, The Times; ‘Richard West’s chatty, humane approach is backed by formidable familiarity with Defoe’s massive output’ John Carey, Sunday Times; ‘minutely researched, highly entertaining’ Kate Saunders, Observer; ‘written with a pace and clarity of which Defoe would have approved’ Peter Lewis, Daily Mail; ‘comprehensive reading and a rich source of information, painlessly conveyed’ T.L.S.
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The life of Daniel Defoe was strange and colourful, and has baffled historians and biographers ever since. Constantly on the run from his creditors after a string of business failures, and always struggling to feed his wife and six children, he became a consummate and prolific pamphleteer as well as a master of the English language in such classics as 'Robinson Crusoe' (with its claim to being the world bestseller of all time), 'Moll Flanders, Roxana' and 'A Journal of the Plague Year'.
Born in London in 1660, the year of the Restoration of the Monarchy, Defoe remained a Nonconformist throughout his life, took part in a rebellion against King James II, travelled the country as a spy for Queen Anne, worked in Scotland on behalf of the historic Union of Scotland and England, was frequently bankrupted and imprisoned for libel and debt, and died a pauper in 1731.
"An absorbing study of the life and times of this secretive, tormented, superlatively gifted man, the first proper journalist and the first proper novelist in the English language…Himself a distinguished journalist, Mr West writes with a range of reference, an ease of style and an eye for vivid detail worthy of his great predecessor…episodes are related with a force and immediacy that live on in the mind long after the book is finished."
BARRY UNSWORTH, 'Spectator'
"At once compulsive reading and a rich source of information, painlessly conveyed."
PETER READING, 'Times Literary Supplement'
"Sheer delight…admirable and enjoyable."
ALLAN MASSIE, 'Daily Telegraph'
“Superb…minutely researched, hugely entertaining”
KATE SAUNDERS, 'Observer'
Richard West has been a journalist and freelance writer for 40 years, working first on the Manchester Guardian. He has travelled widely, and has written three books of reportage on Africa (including The White Tribes of Africa), two historical works, two books on Latin America, and three books on Vietnam. His other works include An English Journey, River of Tears (a study of RTZ and the politics of mining), and Tito and the Rise and Fall of Yugoslavia. He is married to the Irish writer Mary Kenny, and has written regularly for Private Eye and the Spectator. This is his first book for HarperCollins.
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Book Description Flamingo, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0006388175