Daniel Foe was born in London in 1660, the son of Presbyterian Dissenters and was educated at a dissenting academy at a time when the government did not look kindly on those who practised their religionoutside the Church of England.
In his adult life he became a successful merchant and though he was able to buy a country estate he was usually heavily in debt. It was during this time that he added the "De" to his name, believing it sounded more gentlemanly or aristocratic. This was also when he became an enthusiastic pamphleteer, publishing many essays generally critical of the political establishment. One such, entitled "The Shortest Way with Dissenters", published in 1702, was a satire directed at the established church and led him to spend three days in the pillory before being sent to Newgate Prison and kept there until he was able to pay his fine. Fortunately for him the Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer negotiated his release in return for certain obligations. Defoe then was able to continue with his writing and established a periodical entitled "A Review of the Affairs of France". Some of his writing at this time is now regarded as the first examples of modern journalism and by 1719 having written hundreds of essays, accounts, poems and other texts he decided to turn his hand to fiction.