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January, 1719. A man sits at a table, writing. Nearly sixty, Daniel Defoe is troubled with gout and mired in political controversy and legal threats. But for the moment he is preoccupied by a younger man on a barren shore - Robinson Crusoe.Several miles south another old man, Robert Knox, sits bent over a heavy volume - published nearly forty years before. Knox''''s Historical Relation was a bestseller when it was published in 1681, just a year after he escaped from Ceylon and returned to England.Where did Crusoe come from? And what is the secret of his endurance? Frank explores the intertwined lives of two real men: Daniel Defoe and Robert Knox and the character and the book that emerged from their peculiar conjunction.

Born and educated in America, Katherine Frank is the author of several acclaimed biographies—of Emily Brontë, Mary Kingsley, and Indira Gandhi. She lives in England.