When Daniel Defoe heard how Selkirk had lived alone on the island of Juan Fernandez, he said to himself: Here is something worth telling about.
The earliest regular life and estimate of Defoe is that of Dr Towers in the Biographia Britannica.
DANIEL DEFOE (c. 1659-1731), English author, was born in the parish of St Giles, Cripplegate, London, in the latter part of 1659 or early in 1660, of a nonconformist family.
The story was founded on Dempier's Voyage round the World (1697), and still more on Alexander Selkirk's adventures, as communicated by Selkirk himself at a meeting with Defoe at the house of Mrs Damaris Daniel at Bristol.
The second and third contain fugitive writings assigned by Lee to Defoe for the first time.
Up to that time Defoe had written nothing but occasional literature, and, except the History of the Union and Jure Divino, nothing of any great length.
Pope, with less excuse, put him in the Dunciad towards the end of his life, but he confessed to Spence in private that Defoe had written many things and none bad.
In 1705 appeared The Consolidator, or Memoirs of Sundry Transactions from the World in the Moon, a political satire which is supposed to have given some hints for Swift's Gulliver's Travels; and at the end of the year Defoe performed a secret mission, the first of several of the kind, for Harley.
Much of the information in this was derived from personal experience, for Defoe claims to have made many more tours and visits about England than those of which we have record; but the major part must necessarily have been dexterous compilation.
In the negotiations concerning the Peace of Utrecht, Defoe strongly supported the ministerial side, to the intense wrath of the Whigs, displayed in an attempted prosecution against some pamphlets of his on the all-important question of the succession.