Daniel Defoe was born Daniel Foe in London in 1660. It was perhaps, ineveitable that Defoe, an outspoken man, would become a political journalist. As a Puritan he believed God had given him a mission to print the truth, that is, to proselytize on religion and politics, and in fact, he became a prolific pamphleteer satirizing the hypocrisies of both Church and State. Defoe admired William III, and his poem The True-Born Englishman (1701) won him the King’s friendship. But an ill-timed satire on High Church extremists, The Shortest Way with the Dissenters, published during Queen Anne’s reign, resulted in his being pilloried and imprisoned for seditious libel in 1703.
At fifty-nine Defoe turned to fiction, completing The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1719), partly based on the saga of Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish sailor; Moll Flanders (1722); Colonel Jack (1722); A Journal of the Plague Years (1722); and Roxana or the Fortunate Mistress (1724).