Daniel Defoe (1660–1731)
Daniel Defoe produced his most important works during the Augustan Age, named for its writers who consciously attempted to emulate the work of the original Augustan writers, such as Vergil and Horace. He is also among those responsible for the creation of the English novel. Over the course of his lifetime, he worked as a journalist, pamphleteer, and essayist, writing as a social commentator for the merchant class. Defoe’s work is a hallmark of the neoclassical age. It was didactic as well as intellectual in nature. Defoe wrote as effortlessly on the subjects of politics, religion, and economics as he did fiction and employed the use of several neoclassical conventions, including the satire and the epic.
Scholars estimate that Defoe’s birth occurred sometime in 1660, the year that marked the beginning of the neoclassical age. He was born to James Foe, a tradesman and merchant, and Alice Foe; it is unclear why Daniel added the “De.” Though his father was reasonably successful, he could not send his son to the best schools, as he was a Dissenter, which was a religious group that did not conform to the Church of England. In his adult life, Defoe would work as a businessman in land speculation, the import business, as an inventor, and in other endeavors.
During Defoe’s life, England was politically driven by the monarchy and the Anglican Church, and, like his father, Defoe was a Dissenter and found...
(The entire section is 1538 words.)
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