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Biography

Daniel Defoe was born at the beginning of a period of history known as the English Restoration, so-named because it was when King Charles II restored the monarchy to England following the English Civil War and the brief dictatorship of Oliver Cromwell. Defoe’s contemporaries included Isaac Newton and Samuel Pepys.

Defoe was born in London and during his formative years was witness to the Great Plague (1665-6) and the Great Fire (1666), both of which had considerable effect on the neighbourhood he lived in. In addition to these disasters, the English were at war with the Dutch between 1665 and 1667, which saw many privateer ships involved in attacking the Dutch fleet as Charles had insufficient money to fund the war. Privateers essentially paid themselves with the booty they acquired from the enemy ships, which included trade vessels as well as men’o’war. In turn this led to the evolution of piracy in times of peace. It is undoubtedly this roguish activity on the high seas that inspired Defoe to write his famous novel Robinson Crusoe.

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