In 1665 the plague swept through London, claiming over 97,000 lives. Daniel Defoe was just five at the time of the plague, but he later called on his own memories, as well as his writing experience, to create this vivid chronicle of the epidemic and its victims. ‘A Journal’ (1722) follows Defoe’s fictional narrator as he traces the devastating progress of the plague through the streets of London. Here we see a city transformed: some of its streets suspiciously empty, some – with crosses on their doors – overwhelmingly full of the sounds and smells of human suffering. And every living citizen he meets has a horrifying story that demands to be heard.
“Within the texture of Defoe’s prose, London becomes a living and suffering being.” (Peter Ackroyd)
A Note on the Text
A Journal of the Plague Year
Appendix I: The Plague
Appendix II: Topographical Index
Appendix III: London Maps
Appendix IV: Introduction by Anthony Burgess to the 1966 Penguin English Library Edition