Defoe and Christianity

David Walker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Daniel Defoe was raised as a Presbyterian, a Dissenter from the established Church of England, at a time when Nonconformists were persecuted for their faith. This chapter explores the intersections of religion and politics in Defoe’s lifetime and as they affected his career and writings. The evidence of Defoe’s early, unpublished poetic ‘Meditations’ (c.1683) is that he took the decision as a young man not to become a clergyman but instead to pursue a career in trade with considerable anguish. From then on, Defoe’s private religious convictions remained prominent in his public writings on theology, as he defended the Toleration Act (1689) and attacked Anglican intolerance in numerous writings, notably his satire The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters (1702). The chapter traces Defoe’s ideas about religion through to his late writings on supernatural and occult topics, demonstrating that he adhered to an orthodox conception of Christianity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Daniel Defoe
EditorsNicholas Seager, J. A. Downie
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780191998560
ISBN (Print)9780198827177
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2023

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