Vividly depicting an individual's psychological development from terrified survivor to master of man and nature, Defoe created one of the most enduring, universal myths in literature.
Born in London to a prosperous tallow-chandler, Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) was educated at the Presbyterian Ministry at Morton's Academy for Dissenters, but in 1683 abandoned the ministry and followed his father by pursuing a career in trade and politics. He went on to become a well-established and widely-travelled hosiery merchant, as well as a writer of political pamphlets in support of King William III, for whom he also served as a secret agent. A prolific non-fiction writer (writing some 500 books on a wide range of topics), prominent public figure (single-handedly producing the Review, a pro-government newspaper, for some time) and political agitant (arrested in 1703 for writing an ironical satire on High Church extremism), it was not until late in his life that Defoe turned to fiction. He published Robinson Crusoe in 1719, just over ten years before his death, and is widely held to be the first true novelist.