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The Afterlife of Daniel Defoe's Captain Singleton in the Seven Years' War


Daniel Defoe’s pirate novel Captain Singleton (1720) was republished in 1757, during the political and military crises of the early stages of the Seven Years’ War. The fact that Singleton at this time was extensively rewritten has gone entirely unnoticed by scholars. The present article explains how this version of Defoe’s maritime picaresque fiction responded to national anxieties about naval performance, aristocratic leadership, and martial masculinity following the loss of Minorca, seeking to galvanise its readers during the privateering rush of this period and the more general appetite for a ‘blue-water’, colonial war strategy. In 1757, Bob Singleton is transformed from the stateless sea rover of Defoe’s original into a patriotic privateer who serves the British nation in an unofficial capacity, both as an African explorer in the first half and a maritime adventurer in the second. The 1757 novel shows the ways in which the rising taste for sentimental fiction, moving away from individualistic adventure stories, coalesced with imperialist and nationalist agendas in the mid-eighteenth century. This example of Defovian reception rewards the investigation of the literary afterlives of eighteenth-century fiction, aiding recognition of how novels endured and were revived, often in revised or remediated states, to reach different readerships and speak to new sociocultural contexts.


Seager. (2023). The Afterlife of Daniel Defoe's Captain Singleton in the Seven Years' War. Review of English Studies, 74(314),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 28, 2022
Online Publication Date Dec 14, 2022
Publication Date 2023-04
Publicly Available Date Dec 15, 2024
Journal The Review of English Studies: the leading journal of English literature and language
Print ISSN 0034-6551
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 74
Issue 314
Publisher URL


This file is under embargo until Dec 15, 2024 due to copyright restrictions.

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