Captain Singleton
  • Publication Date: July 20, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781554813414 / 1554813417
  • 424 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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Captain Singleton

  • Publication Date: July 20, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781554813414 / 1554813417
  • 424 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Following the success of Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe wrote a new fiction, the story of an English pirate whose success eclipsed every buccaneer the Atlantic world had seen. Featuring a haunted, unreliable narrator, a daring trek across the continent of Africa, and mercantile adventures in the China Seas, Captain Singleton is a tale of loneliness, brotherhood, and the lust for profit.

Appendices to this Broadview Edition include materials on pirate fiction, travel writing, and earlier pirate tales that may have provided models for Captain Singleton.


“Manushag Powell’s excellent edition of Captain Singleton fills a need for teachers and students of Defoe and the eighteenth-century novel, since there is no widely available edition of this important work. Powell’s introduction is informative about Defoe and about the eighteenth century’s fascination with pirates. Her copious annotation of the text is judicious; the supplementary readings of other pirate and travel narratives from the period provide very useful contexts for Defoe’s novel.” — John Richetti, University of Pennsylvania, Emeritus

Captain Singleton, while fascinating, is in many ways a bewildering text for twenty-first-century readers. Rather than attempt to tame it, Powell expertly guides us into its most perplexing and ambiguous aspects, helping us see how fictional projects depart from historical ones, even as fiction and history inform each other. By refusing to resolve the text’s ‘narrative enigmas,’ the introduction urges us toward thinking critically and imaginatively about the tale’s more challenging components. This edition presents Singleton as an opportunity to practice ways of reading that will give readers purchase on a wide array of eighteenth-century prose fictions.” — Eugenia Zuroski, McMaster University

“I can think of nobody better than pirate expert Manushag Powell to edit Defoe’s ripping yarn of the adventures of Captain Bob Singleton, pirate extraordinaire. Her well-judged introduction provides generous intellectual context for new readers of this absorbing novel of global travel and international trade. The excitement and possibilities, as well as the consequences, of European expansionism are brought to readers’ attention through Powell’s inclusion in her appendices of a series of short extracts from the experiences of other eighteenth-century travellers. By using this excellent new edition, students and teachers alike will be able not only to appreciate the importance of Captain Bob within his eighteenth-century context, but also to understand his place in the history of pirate lives and literature.” — Claire Jowitt, University of East Anglia

“There is copious contextual grounding in Manushag Powell’s excellent edition, with meticulously informative notes that will intrigue even the most blasé undergraduate.” — Min Wild, Times Literary Supplement

“Manushag N. Powell’s carefully edited and meticulously researched edition does an outstanding job of combining interpretive lens and pedagogical glossing. … Powell’s edition will introduce generations of students to one of Defoe’s most wide-ranging adventure stories.” — Srividhya Swaminathan, Eighteenth Century Fiction

Daniel Defoe: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

The Life, Adventures, and Pyracies, of the Famous Captain Singleton

Appendix A: The Test-Run(?) for Singleton

  • 1. The King of Pirates: Being an Account of the Famous Enterprises of Captain Avery, the Mock King of Madagascar (1719)

Appendix B: Pirate Writing

  • 1. From Penelope Aubin, The Life of Charlotta Du Pont, an English Lady (1723)
  • 2. Letter from David Aubin to Abraham and Henry Aubin (3 June 1720)
  • 3. Some Memoirs concerning that famous Pyrate Capt. Avery (November 1708)
  • 4. From The Life and Adventures of Capt. John Avery (1709)
  • 5. From A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates (1724)
  • 6. From Daniel Defoe, A Review of the State of the British Nation (18 October 1707)

Appendix C: Travel Writing

  • 1. From Robert Knox, An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon (1681)
  • 2. From Madagascar: Or, Robert Drury’s Journal (1729)
  • 3. From Willem Bosman, A New and Accurate Description of the Coast of Guinea (1705)
  • 4. From William Dampier, A New Voyage Round the World (1697)
  • 5. From Woodes Rogers, A Cruising Voyage Round the World (1712)
  • 6. From Herman Moll, Atlas Geographus (1711–17)

Works Cited and Select Bibliography

Manushag N. Powell is Professor of English at Purdue University.