This portrait shows the author Daniel Defoe (1660?–1731), aged about 43. He wears a cravat and full-bottomed wig – the height of gentlemen’s fashion in the early 18th century. The image was produced by the Flemish engraver Michael Vandergucht (1660–1725), after a painting by Jeremiah Taverner.
The portrait forms the frontispiece for A True Collection of the Writings of the Author of the True Born English-man (1703). It was published just after Defoe was released from Newgate Prison, and aims to restore his reputation by reminding readers of his hugely popular poem, ‘The True-Born Englishman’ (1701).
The satirical poem, reprinted here amongst other texts, defends the Dutch-born King William III against English xenophobia. In the preface to this collection, Defoe insists that ‘an Englishman, of all men, ought not to despise foreigners’ because essentially ‘we are really all foreigners ourselves’.