Daniel Defoe was born in 1660 in London, the son of a prosperous tallow-chandler. He was educated in 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. A prolific non-fiction writer, prominent public figure, political agitant, and secret agent, 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 in 1731, and is widely held to be the first true novelist.
John Richetti is A. M. Rosenthal Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. From 2008 to 2009 he was President of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies and in 2011 he received a Mellon Emeritus Fellowship. His works include Popular Fiction before Richardson: Narrative Patterns 1700-1739, The Life of Daniel Defoe: A Critical Biography, and The English Novel in History 1700-1780.
Coralie Bickford-Smith is an award-winning designer at Penguin Books (U.K.), where she has created several highly acclaimed series designs. She studied typography at Reading University and lives in London.
Part of Penguin's beautiful hardback Clothbound Classics series, designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith
'I walk'd about on the shore, lifting up my hands, and my whole being, as I may say, wrapt up in the contemplation of my deliverance . . . reflecting upon all my comrades that were drown'd, and that there should not be one soul sav'd but my self . . . '
Who has not dreamed of life on an exotic isle, far away from civilization? Here is the novel which has inspired countless imitations by lesser writers, none of which equal the power and originality of Defoe's famous book. Robinson Crusoe, set ashore on an island after a terrible storm at sea, is forced to make do with only a knife, some tobacco, and a pipe. He learns how to build a canoe, make bread, and endure endless solitude. That is, until, twenty-four years later, when he confronts another human being. First published in 1719, Robinson Crusoe has been praised by such writers as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Samuel Johnson as one of the greatest novels in the English language.