He changed the 'Foe' to 'Defoe' in 1703 at about the time he was starting to write in earnest.
His father was a butcher who saw to it that his son had a good schooling in the hope that he would become a minister.
He married Mary Tuffley in 1684. They had 6 children.
He was a Dissenter throughout his life. That is, he did not support the established church. In fact he was a Presbyterian.
In 1702 he wrote a pamphlet entitled The Shortest Way with the Dissenters. It was a satirical send-up (remember he was himself was a Dissenter) which so outraged the powers-that-be that they had him put in the stocks. However, this proved to be no great punishment as he was popular with the ordinary people and they came round, not to pelt him with rotten tomatoes, but to chat and drink his health! Then, whilst in prison, he wrote a Hymn to the Pillory.
He was nearly 60 when he turned to writing the sort of fiction which has kept his name alive for over 4 centuries. First was Robinson Crusoe which started in serial form in 1719 and has earned him the reputation of being among the first of the English novelists.
He died on 24 April 1731 in London, aged 71.
Some of his best-known works are:
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