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Dover: Lock and Key of the Kingdom

Daniel Defoe - Dover in the 1720s

Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) was born in Stoke Newington, the son of a butcher. A  prolific writer he published more than 250 works. In 1704 he set up a newspaper, ‘The  Review’, which was published until 1713. He turned to writing fiction after 1714, and in  1719-20, at the age of nearly 60, published his best known book, ‘Robinson Crusoe’.  Among his other works was ‘Tour through the Whole Island of Great Britain’, published  in three volumes between 1724 and 1727. He visited Dover in his travels, and his  account suggests that he was not particularly impressed by the town. “Neither Dover nor it’s castle has anything of note to be said of them, but what is in  common with their neighbours; the castle is old, useless, decay’d, and serves for  little; but to give the title and honour of government to men of quality, with a salary,  and sometimes to those that want one. The town is one of the Cinque Ports, sends members to Parliament, who are call’d  barons, and has it self an ill repair’d, dangerous, and good for little harbour and pier,  very chargeable and little worth: The packets for France go off here, also those for  Nieuport, with the mails for Flanders, and all those ships which carry freights from  New-York to Holland, and from Virginia to Holland, come generally hither, and unlade  their goods, enter them with, and show them to the custom-house officers, pay the  duties, and then enter them again by certificate, reload them, and draw back the duty by debenture, and so they go away for Holland.”
Daniel Defoe Dover in 1735. This view is from about 10 years after Defoe's visit but probably little changed in that time. Back to Words Index