THE AUTHOR OF "ROBINSON CRUSOE."
From 'Highroads of Literature - Fourth Book'
A 1924 School Textbook
1. I do not suppose that there is a single boy or girl in this class who
has not heard of " Robinson Crusoe." For more than two hundred years the book has been
eagerly read by millions of people, and with young folks it is just as popular as ever
it was. Those who have not read the book are to be pitied. Let me advise them to make the
acquaintance of Robinson Crusoe and Man Friday as soon as possible.
2. Now I am sure you would like to know something of the man who wrote this
wonderful book. His name was Daniel Defoe, and he was the son of a butcher who lived in
that London parish in which Milton was buried. We know very little about his early life,
except that he went to a school in which youths were trained to become dissenting
3. Shakespeare tells us that "one man in his time plays many parts." This is especially true of Defoe. It is said that as a young man "he fought with Monmouth, and that after the battle of Sedge-moor he was obliged to go into hiding in order to escape the hangman's rope.
4. When the danger was past he came out of hiding, and set up as a dealer in hosiery. He was, however, so fond of politics, and gave so much of his time to writing political tracts, that his business failed and he became a bankrupt. This forced him to go into hiding again.
5. After a time Defoe made an arrangement with his creditors, and returned to London, where he wrote many papers in defence of King William's government. Before long he was considered the best political writer in the country. In stating his case, and in answering his opponents, he went straight to the point, and was never afraid to say what he thought. He kept the attention of his readers, and his arguments were powerful. Above all, he wrote clear and graceful English.
6. Defoe's articles were printed in the form of pamphlets. Usually he wrote in prose, but sometimes in verse. One of his songs, The True-born Englishman, was so popular that it gained him the favour of King William, who gave him a post, which he held for five years. When he lost this post he again went into business as the manager of a brick and tile factory. He was so successful that he made money, and was able to set up a coach and a pleasure boat. I am glad to tell you that he also paid off most of his debts.