The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Daniel Defoe

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9780002557900: The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe's life (1660-1731) 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. In between, he was one of the most brilliant pamphleteers in the country, and wrote "Robinson Crusoe", "Moll Flanders", "Roxana", "A Journal of the Plague Year" and "A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain".

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From the Back Cover:

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 consummate and prolific pamphleteer as well as a master of the English language in such classics as 'Robinson Crusoe' (with its claims to being the world bestseller of all time), 'Moll Flanders, Roxana' and 'A Journal of the Plague Year'.

Though his life was packed with incident and drama, he remained – even to his contemporaries – a mysterious figure who preferred to operate in the shadows. Richard West has been inspired by Defoe ever since reading 'A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain', which was based on a number of journeys Defoe made as a secret government agent.

Born in London in the year of the Restoration of the Monarchy after the English Civil War, 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 active behalf of the historic Union of Scotland and England, helped launch the ill-fated South Sea Company, was frequently bankrupted and imprisoned for libel and debt, and finally died a pauper in 1731.

Defoe was, above all, a compulsive writer, and Richard West's book presents him as the first great English journalist as well as novelist, with the journalist's gift for combining a sense of history with an eye for immediate detail. He was virtually the creator of the leading article, the candid obituary, the foreign news analysis, the gossip column and the advice column. He was also a scurrilous satirist. His appeal to today's readers can only be enhanced by this superbly told biography.

About the Author:

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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