Classics: Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe

Happy New Year, everyone! Time for another lovely book showing. When I bought this one I recognized Daniel Defoe’s (the author’s) name because he wrote Robinson Crusoe, though I’d never even heard of this novel. A work friend quickly reassured me I’d unknowingly made a great purchase when she called the main character “the original Scarlett O’Hara. Believe me, I was not disappointed. Keep reading for a brief description of the novel (no spoilers as always) and more pics of an old edition.

The Fortunes & Misfortunes of Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe


Moll Flanders is the retroactive autobiography of an old bandit. Moll Flanders, narrator and protagonist, introduces the story by speaking to the reader, musing how her name (which isn’t real) is widely renowned from the old tavern to the prison, preparing us for the adventure, the horror, and the life lessons that will proceed. She starts as a pitiful orphan and is taken in by a “gentlewoman” who cares for abandoned children. Flanders distinguishes herself as rebellious from the beginning, resisting the orphans’ training for servitude, instead desiring to become a “gentlewoman” herself.  Most of the novel focuses on her exhilarating adulthood years, which include several marriages, several abandoned children, sleeping with brothers, cross-country moves, accidental incest, feigning wealth to entice a man, prostituting, and much more.

Her affair with a married man who impregnates her but leaves her introduces her to a midwife who would become her most loyal friend and partner during her later years; the midwife ropes her into the business of thievery. Flanders is so successful in her life of crime that she becomes rich and sustains the “job” for years, providing the reader with many shocking and hilarious incidents of her stealing and narrowly escaping. You’ll have to read the novel yourself to find out the ending! Flanders is a badass, but fully embracing her is difficult sometimes because she is selfish (like O’Hara). Flanders’ occasional repulsiveness as a character is tempered with her reflective, didactic digressions in the narration, though. [Side note: it’s interesting to consider those didactic digressions in the context of a man writing a story from a woman’s perspective in 1722, especially on topics like sexuality.] Overall, the story is incredibly entertaining.


Daniel Defoe wasn’t given the credit for authorship until decades after his death. The work was genuinely published as an autobiography. Can you imagine what the world would be like if we didn’t put disclaimers on everything nowadays?

Information on this edition is hard to find, but from what I can gather, Fine Editions Press commissioned these semi-leather, burgundy, hardback editions of the classics in 1946-1947. The tops of the pages are gilded, and some of the novels from the series include illustrations, though this one doesn’t. The book has a distinctive “old library” smell when opened, which appeals to nerdy girls like myself.

Do you feel intrigued to read Moll Flanders now? Let me know, and thanks for reading!


6 responses to “Classics: Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe”

  1. Sounds like a must-read! I love unconventional women who buck the societal mores of the time. Thanks for the heads-up! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m planning to re-read Robinson Crusoe later this year, but now I’m wondering if I should just give Moll Flanders a go. This sounds amazing! For an early 18th century piece, the subject matter is pretty unbelievable. I need to make time for this.

    Thanks for the heads up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Editing Advantage Avatar
      Editing Advantage

      I know right! I couldn’t believe the novel’s premise coming from Daniel Defoe…then I read it and was floored by how convincing and fun it is.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for blogging about this book. It’s on my reading list, now. I’m almost finished re-reading Anne of Green Gables presently, and laughing out loud often. Funny how as a preteen, the story seemed earnest, but now it’s mostly hilarious. I’m enjoying it so much more this time around. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Editing Advantage Avatar
      Editing Advantage

      Ooh, thanks for the recommendation! I know I have that book. :p

      Liked by 1 person

  4. […] similarities with Moll Flanders, a novel Daniel Defoe published just two years prior to this one, which I posted about a few months ago. Both novels present themselves as retroactive, autobiographical, forewarning accounts of the […]


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