Daniel Defoe was born on this day during the autumn of 1660, probably in London or just outside the city. Though educated for the nonconformist ministry, he chose instead to follow his father in trade and political life.
While Defoe authored political pamphlets and even satirical poetry, he is perhaps best known for his novel, Robinson Crusoe, first published in 1719.
Called "the greatest mythic fantasy ever written of the solitary survivor who will never succumb" by Defoe scholar Paula R. Backscheider , the novel engages notions of global opportunity, religious controversy, and individualism, bringing together Defoe's varied interests in a style reminiscent of the travel writing popular at the time.
Compelling and inspiring from its release, Robinson Crusoe is considered Defoe's greatest work. The novel has never been out of print and continues to attract both critical interest as well as additions to a remarkable number of imitations and adaptations in print and on screen.
Beyond a fine copy of the first edition of 1719, the collection includes a long series of British editions, a series of American editions, and a significant number of translations into many languages. It also features a host of "Robinsonades" (Robinson Crusoe imitations) in dozens of languages. The collection even includes a few board games from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Defoe's legacy lives on, in small part within our Hubbard Imaginary Voyages Collection, and far beyond print.
Happy Birthday Daniel Defoe!
 Established in 1923 with a donation of some 1500 titles by University of Michigan Regent Lucius L. Hubbard, the Hubbard Imaginary Voyages Collection now numbers more than 2800 titles with at least 70 percent pertaining to Robinson Crusoe. For more on the acquisition, see p.1378 of v. 4, pt. 8. “The Libraries” In The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey, edited by Wilfred B. Shaw. Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press, 1942-58. Available online via HathiTrust.