Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) was born in London. His father, a butcher, sent him to Charles Morton's academy to study for the ministry, but Defoe entered the business world instead and achieved some initial success as a commission agent. In 1684, he married Mary Tuffley, a prosperous merchant's daughter. The following year, stirred by the spirit of adventure, he took part in Monmouth's rebellion; and in 1688, he joined a volunteer regiment that acted as William III's escort into London. By 1692, Defoe's business affairs had floundered, and his creditors filed suit against him. He talked his way out of debtors' prison and took up manufacturing, eventually becoming the owner of some tile works at Tilbury. About this time, he started to write. His poem The True-Born Englishman, published in 1701, met with resounding success. In 1702, he attacked the Tories in the pamphlet The Shortest Way with the Dissenters. This work enraged the government, and Defoe was imprisoned. Released in November 1704, he became a secret agent for the government, working in favor of the union. Defoe continued to write pamphlets, and it was not until some years later that he turned to fiction. Between 1718 and 1723, he published Robinson Crusoe, Moll Flanders, and A Journal of the Plague Year. He lived for a time in style, but gradually the creditors crept back. Forced to go into hiding, Defoe died, a lonely and hunted man, in Ropemaker's Alley, Moorfields, on April 26, 1731. Regina Barreca, Professor of English Literature and Feminist Theory at the University of Connecticut, is an award-winning columnist for the Hartford Courant. She is the author or editor of numerous books, including They Used to Call Me Snow White. . .But I Drifted and The Penguin Book of Women's Humor. She has also regularly published articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and dozens of magazines.