Year
1719
Month Day
April 25

"Robinson Crusoe" is published

Daniel Defoe’s fictional work The Life and Strange Adventures of Robinson Crusoe is published. The book, about a shipwrecked sailor who spends 28 years on a deserted island, is based on the experiences of shipwreck victims and of Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish sailor who spent four years on a small island off the coast of South America in the early 1700s.

Like his hero Crusoe, Daniel Defoe was an ordinary, middle-class Englishman, not an educated member of the nobility like most writers at the time. Defoe established himself as a small merchant but went bankrupt in 1692 and turned to political pamphleteering to support himself. A pamphlet he published in 1702 satirizing members of the High Church led to his arrest and trial for seditious libel in 1703. He appealed to powerful politician Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford, who had him freed from Newgate prison and who hired him as a political writer and spy to support his own views. To this end, Defoe set up the Review, which he edited and wrote from 1704 to 1713. It wasn’t until he was nearly 60 that he began writing fiction. His other works include Moll Flanders (1722) and Roxana (1724). He died in London in 1731, one day before the 12th anniversary of Robinson Crusoe’s publication.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Magnitude 7.8 earthquake kills thousands in Nepal

On April 25, 2015 a magnitude 7.8 earthquake tears through Nepal, killing nearly 9,000 and injuring 16,800. It was the worst such earthquake for the Asian country since 1934. The earthquake struck shortly before noon, but the devastation continued as several dozen aftershocks ...read more

The Flint water crisis begins

On April 25, 2014 officials from Flint, Michigan switched the city’s water supply to the Flint River as a cost-cutting measure for the struggling city. In doing so, they unwittingly introduced lead-poisoned water into homes, in what would become a massive public-health crisis. ...read more

Hubble Space Telescope placed in orbit

The crew of the U.S. space shuttle Discovery places the Hubble Space Telescope, a long-term space-based observatory, into a low orbit around Earth. The space telescope, conceived in the 1940s, designed in the 1970s, and built in the 1980s, was designed to give astronomers an ...read more

Ground broken for Suez Canal

At Port Said, Egypt, ground is broken for the Suez Canal, an artificial waterway intended to stretch 101 miles across the isthmus of Suez and connect the Mediterranean and the Red seas. Ferdinand de Lesseps, the French diplomat who organized the colossal undertaking, delivered ...read more

Soviet leader Yuri Andropov writes letter to U.S. fifth-grader Samantha Smith

On April 25, 1983, the Soviet Union releases a letter that Russian leader Yuri Andropov wrote to Samantha Smith, an American fifth-grader from Manchester, Maine, inviting her to visit his country. Andropov’s letter came in response to a note Smith had sent him in December 1982, ...read more

President Truman inaugurates White House bowling alley

President Harry S. Truman officially opens the first White House bowling alley on April 25, 1947. The two-lane bowling alley, situated in the West Wing, had been constructed earlier that year. According to Smithsonian magazine, a group of Truman’s fellow Missourians funded the ...read more

Jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald is born

On April 25, 1917, jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald is born in Newport News, Virginia. She was called “The First Lady of Song,” an honor whose meaning is captured in a compliment paid to her by the great composer Ira Gershwin: “I never knew how good our songs were until I heard Ella ...read more

Plane crashes on Canary Islands, killing 146

A Dan-Air Boeing 727 carrying British tourists to the Canary Islands crashes and kills all 146 on board on April 25, 1980. This terrible crash came just three years after another even deadlier accident at the Canary Islands airport. In 1977, a KLM jumbo jet had collided with a ...read more

A father is exonerated after 21 years

James Richardson walks out of a Florida prison 21 years after being wrongfully convicted of killing his seven children. Special prosecutor Janet Reno agreed to the release after evidence showed that the conviction resulted from misconduct by the prosecutor. In addition, neighbor ...read more

Americans and Russians link up, cut Germany in two

On April 25, 1945, eight Russian armies completely encircle Berlin, linking up with the U.S. First Army patrol, first on the western bank of the Elbe, then later at Torgau. Germany is, for all intents and purposes, Allied territory. The Allies sounded the death knell of their ...read more

Allies begin invasion of Gallipoli

On April 25, 1915, a week after Anglo-French naval attacks on the Dardanelles end in dismal failure, the Allies launch a large-scale land invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsula, the Turkish-controlled land mass bordering the northern side of the Dardanelles. In January 1915, two ...read more