Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe    1660 to 1731


Famous for his story of Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe plays a much broader role in the development of media.  Early in his life he became an enthusiastic campaigner and pamphleteer producing numerous printed documents.  One so upset the Church authorities he was arrested in 1702 and sentenced to be put in the pillory at Charing Cross.


By 1704 he was back in favour and started what is probably the first magazine called  The Review of the State of the British Nation.  It had a small circulation – only 400 – but came out three times a week was hugely influential and laid the ground for later titles like The Spectator and The Tatler.  It established the practice of taking paid advertising and sought to lead opinion rather than just report news.


Defoe was an active campaigner for providing the protection of copyright to authors and in 1709 wrote in The Review:


To print another Man’s copy is much worse than robbing him on the Highway; for the Thief takes only what he finds about him, but the Pyrate Printer takes away his inheritance…not of the Author only, but of his Family and Children


He was one of the influential voices that led to the world’s first copyright legislation in 1710, the Statute of Anne, which gave protection to the creators of material.


In 1719, probably encouraged by the economic value of the new copyright laws, he published what is often considered to be the first novel in the English language Robinson Crusoe.