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  • Writer's pictureBristol Lit Fest

Crusoe 300: Lunchtime lecture on Robinson Crusoe

12:30pm, 17 October

Bristol Central Library, Free

Tickets not required

The talk by Mark Steeds will feature author Daniel Defoe’s life, his classic tale and his adventures in Bristol.

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe is 300 years old in 2019 and is generally regarded as the first novel in the English language. Defoe based the plot of Robinson Crusoe on a story told to him by Alexander Selkirk (1676-1721) when the two met in Bristol. 

Selkirk was a Scottish privateer/pirate. During the War of the Spanish Succession, he was one of the crew on the Cinque Ports, captained by Thomas Stradling and under the overall command of a pirate called William Dampier. When the ship stopped to take on water at the uninhabited Juan Fernandez island in the South Pacific, Selkirk correctly judged the craft was unseaworthy and asked to be left on the island and was marooned there.

He spent four years on the island (1704-1709) wore goatskins and farmed the wild goats. Selkirk was rescued by the privateer/pirate Woodes Rogers who brought him to Bristol. Defoe was living in the city at the time and met Selkirk who told him his story. In the mid-1950s the Berni Brothers claimed that the meeting took place in their new Berni Inn, the Llandoger Trow, but according to Mark Steeds’ research it is more likely that they met in the Star Coffee House near the site of Bristol Castle.

There is also an exhibition about Daniel Defoe and Robinson Crusoe on the first floor of Central Libary outside the Reading Room during the Festival.


Address: Bristol Central Library, College Green, Bristol, BS1 5TL

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