Book Chapter

Defoe's The storm as a model for contemporary reporting



McKay JM (2007) Defoe's The storm as a model for contemporary reporting. In: Keeble R & Wheeler S (eds.) The Journalistic Imagination: Literary Journalists from Defoe to Capote and Carter. Abingdon, Oxon: Taylor & Francis (Routledge), pp. 15-28.

First paragraph: Daniel Foe was born into a family of a successful tradesman in 1660. As a young man he went into business too, dealing at various times in meat, hosiery, wine, tobacco, perfume, horses and bricks, often with disastrous results such as bankruptcy and imprisonment in 1692 and 1703. Defoe married in 1684 and was the father of at least six children, one of whom became a journalist, although without notable success. Foe added the prefix De to his name in 1695, perhaps, as some have speculated, to enhance his social standing by the adoption of a name that sounds more aristocratic (Richetti 2006: 19). He was educated at the Nonconformist Morton’s Academy, renowned for its forward-thinking approach to education which stressed science, economics and modern rather than classical languages. Defoe acquired a strong interest in politics and social affairs as well as religion, at a time when deep divisions separated Catholic from Protestant in all aspects of life including the accession to the throne. Along with his business activities Defoe held public office but by the 1690s he was establishing himself as an energetic and eloquent writer of political, religious and moral polemic and satire. This got him into trouble with the authorities for which the punishment was to stand in the pillory. From the early years of the eighteenth century Defoe depended on highlevel patronage for his livelihood and was employed as a propagandist and a secret agent charged with setting up an intelligence network by those in power, most notably Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford, MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, a Secretary of State ‘and prime minister in all but name’ (Downie 1979: 2). Defoe developed his extraordinary facility with words to become a writer of astounding productivity and invention. He is widely credited with a role in the foundation of at least two genres – journalism and the novel, although his most famous fiction, Robinson Crusoe, was not written until 1719 when Defoe was nearly 60. He died in 1731, alone and impoverished. 2 For someone who wrote so much there is surprisingly little known about his personal and domestic life.

Defoe; Journalism; Reporting; Weather; Defoe, Daniel, 1661?-1731; English prose literarture; Journalism

Publication date30/09/2007
PublisherTaylor & Francis (Routledge)
Publisher URL…782834900~db=all
Place of publicationAbingdon, Oxon