The Story of Robinson Crusoe is founded on fact. It was written by an Englishman, Daniel Defoe, who lived from 1661 to 1731. During his lifetime reports were common in England of castaways on the newly settled continent of America and its outlying Islands, and marvelous stories were told of the shifts such men had made to live. We have accounts of two men who, at different times, lived alone for years on the island of Juan Femandez, off the coast of Chile. One was an Indian who was left there from 1681 to 1684, and whose adventures were described by Captain Dampier, the buccaneer, in his "New Voyage round the World." The other was the celebrated Alexander Selkirk, a Scotchman, who was rescued in February, 1709, after a stay of four years and four months, according to Captain Woodes Rogers. Defoe-s work shows some striking resemblances to both these accounts; and there is even a legend that our author once visited Selkirk at Bath.
The island which Defoe describes cannot, however, be in any way identified with Juan Femandez. He himself says that it is near the mouth of the Orinoco. In this wise it answers to the island now called Tobago, as well as in such particulars as its distance from the mainland, its relation to the island of Trinidad, and the in draft or current of the sea, of which Defoe makes mention. This island is also not wanting in a legend of a castaway, for there is an account of the finding of a solitary Frenchman who said he had lived there alone twenty-one years.