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History of the Plague in London

Daniel Defoe

Book Overview: 

Daniel Defoe’s ‘The History of the Plague in London’ is a fictionalized account of the bubonic plague epidemic that struck London in 1665 which Defoe witnessed as a five-year old, the year before the Great Fire of London.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .use, which, as he supposed, was occasioned by some of the family dying just at that time. It seems the night before, the "dead cart," as it was called, had been stopped there, and a servant maid had been brought down to the door dead; and the "buriers" or "bearers," as they were called, put her into the cart, wrapped only in a green rug, and carried her away.

The watchman had knocked at the door, it seems, when he heard that noise and crying, as above, and nobody answered a great while; but at last one looked out and said with an angry, quick tone, and yet a kind of crying voice, or a voice of one that was crying, "What d'ye want, that you make such a knocking?" He answered, "I am the watchman. How do you do? What is the matter?" The person answered, "What is that to you? Stop the dead cart." This, it seems, was about one o'clock. Soon after, as the fellow said, he stopped the dead cart, and then knocked again, but nobody answered; he continued knocking, and the . . . Read More

Community Reviews

A Journal of the Plague Year is a dense, repetitive, dismal collection of fictional observations based on factual evidence derived from the events of the Black Death epidemic of 1664-1665. This “journal” completely lacks a narrative, relying solely on a journalistic approach, although it reads nothi

That's one of Gainsbourg's favourite books. A clinical, almost naturalistic story. No pathos, the style is cold as death—exciting reading in these times of epidemic.

In 1664, Borif De Pfeffel Jonffon was the Mayor of London. He was widely popular with his flowing blonde wig and extravagant ruff. Having invented the highly successful sport of peacock wiff-waff, where live cocks were thwacked across a bronze table with scimitars, then skinned and served whole to t

Daniel Defoe wrote this fictionalised account (by an author known only as H.F.) of the 1664 bubonic plague outbreak in London, otherwise known as the Black Death. He wrote it some 50 years after the events. Defoe was fascinated by plagues and did a huge amount of research, producing a work that was

The year is 1665, and the plague has come to London. It has come like a thief in the night, stealing into town one or two fatalities at a time and then growing to a level that is uncontrollable and unimaginable. The account is fiction, since Devoe was too young to have remembered most of the events

Because writing is an expression of human character, what is true of one's character is true of one's writing as well. A person's strengths and weaknesses are often two sides of the same coin—the sympathetic character is often permissive, the assertive unreasonable, the ardent rash—and the same thin

In the crowded unhealthy unclean foul, pest dominated filthy city of London the Black Plague breaks out in 1665, no surprise it had occurred before in fact just a few years previously but this escalates, felling some say 100,000 people who never rise again. Daniel Defoe the inventor of the English l

One of the problems with reviewing the earliest authors of fiction is that they were writing at a time before the rules had been properly worked out. Novels took on the form we know and love because of these writer’s successes and because of their failures. It was up to them to forge the templates,

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