|The son of a well-to-do butcher, Defoe became a London tradesman and merchant. He was well educated and kept notebooks from an early age in which he wrote short fictions. He also daydreamed about adventurous voyages in the South Seas and was excited by the prospect of colonizing new (and utopian) lands. These ideas were to bear fruit in his great work, ROBINSON CRUSOE. Defoe was a gregarious man and the father of eight children. A Dissenter who was a perennial foe of the Tories, he was often jailed for his political writings. He was pilloried for his savagely ironic pamphlet, "The Shortest Way with Dissenters" (considered libelous), which recommended massacring them. After the more tolerant William III ousted the Papist James II, Defoe worked loyally for the king, writing poems, satires, and polemics in defense of his policies. It wasn't until he was in his 50s that Defoe turned to writing fiction, and his stories of thieves and prostitutes were immensely successful. Plagued by creditors all his life, he died at 71 while he was in hiding from one of them, in Ropemaker Street, an area of London not far from where he was born.