Home  »  Volume IX: English FROM STEELE AND ADDISON TO POPE AND SWIFT  »  § 1. Beginnings of the English Newspaper

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IX. From Steele and Addison to Pope and Swift.

I. Defoe—The Newspaper and the Novel

§ 1. Beginnings of the English Newspaper

DEFOE is known to our day chiefly as the author of Robinson Crusoe, a pioneer novelist of adventure and low life. Students, indeed, remember that he was also a prolific pamphleteer of unenviable character and many vicissitudes. To his early biographers, he was not merely a great novelist and journalist, but a martyr to liberal principles and a man of exalted probity. His contemporaries, on the contrary, inclined to regard him as an ignorant scribbler, a political and social outcast, a journalist whose effrontery was equalled only by his astonishing energy. There is, probably, a measure of truth in all these views; it is certainly true that the novelist we remember was evolved out of the journalist we have forgotten.