Daniel Defoe was born in London in 1660, in a family of Nonconformits. His father was the typical lower class man, pratical minded, with a sound Protestant religious spirit and a deep sense of duty and responsabily.
Althought Defoe did not attend university, he received a good education, and in his early twenties set up as a merchant.
This allowed him to travel widely and to become an excellent economic theorist.
He was also keenly interested in politics; his position as a nonconformist placed him among the opposers of James; 1685 he supported Monmouth's rebellion, and in 1688 was among those who welcomed William of Orange, whom he constantly and devoutly supported during all the time of his reign.
He even wrote a verse satire, The True-Born Englishman to defend against to defend the king against the charge of being a foreigner.
William's death shortly afterward deprived the writer of royal protection.
In 1692 Defoe went bankrupt, and this marked the beginning of a lifelong struggle with debts and fear of prison.
This experience, however, gave him a deep understanding of the outcasts of society, like thieves and adventurers, who may be led to crime by fear of starvation and by circumstances.
He expressed his views in numerous pamphlets, the most famoous being The Shortest Way with the Dissenters.