Robinson gets shipwrecked!

It was on this day in 1659 that Robinson Kreutznaer found himself shipwrecked on an island in the Orinoco delta, thanks to Daniel Defoe’s flair for writing. Defoe drew on several sources such as Alexander Selkirk’s story of being marooned for four years on an island near Chile to create Crusoe’s character and adventures. Alternatively he might have read the translation of an earlier Arabic story Hayy ibn Yakhdhan, about life on a desert island.
robinson crusoe
Defoe had great success with his book on Robinson Crusoe (four editions before the end of the first year) and others he wrote such as Moll Flanders. But he also wrote about trade, economics and xenophobia. He was also not above trying to pretend that he was of noble birth by adding the de to his original family name of Foe despite being the son of a candle maker. But then, imagination is the sign of a great writer and what are they but people like us who see a thousand words where we see ten…:)
But all that fame came to him in his sixties. In his forties, Defoe was considered seditious and a risk to the establishment. In January 1703, an advertisement offering a reward of 50 pounds appeared in the London Gazette asking for information that lead to the arrest of “a middle-aged man, about forty years old, of a brown complexion, and dark brown coloured hair, but wears a wig; a hooked nose, a sharp chin, grey eyes, and a large mole near his mouth.” He was wanted for seditious libel. Four months later he put in Newgate prison, and made to stand in the pillory and face the jeers of an ugly mob. The story that the mob threw flowers at him rather than eggs and rotting fruit or dung might have been his own creation as well although it was said that “no man in England but Defoe ever stood in the pillory and later rose to eminence among his fellow men.”
30th September, 1659 – 30th September 2015. A long time to spend on an island, surrounded by goats, a Man Friday and the odd cannibal. But Robinson Crusoe is still one of the most popular books in the English language and gave birth to genres such as science fiction, realistic fiction and travel writing.
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