The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Defoe, Daniel (1660–1731)

  • K. Tribe
Reference work entry


Born Daniel Foe in 1660, son of a London tradesman and Nonconformist, Defoe's early life was that of a merchant with a diversity of interests and ambitions. After his support for the Monmouth rebellion of 1685 he welcomed the accession of the Prince of Orange in 1688, later being given employment by the government. A financially advantageous marriage followed, and then his fortunes reversed with the collapse of his ventures in 1692 owing £17,000. His efforts at clearing his debts first turned him towards journalism, and this was to be his major occupation for the remainder of his life. In the early years of the 17th century he met with some literary success, but in 1702 he was imprisoned for libel. His release in 1704 was conditional on his undertaking to establish an intelligence network for the Government, and in the succeeding years he travelled widely, gathering information and assessing popular opinion. In 1713 he was imprisoned once more, this time for anti-Jacobite writings; pardoned in 1715, he returned to literary work and in the period until his death in 1731 produced the majority of the works for which he is known today.

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  1. Moore, J.R. 1960. A checklist of the writings of Daniel Defoe. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Tribe
    • 1
  1. 1.