Daniel Defoe: The Family Instructor

(1590 words)
  • Penny Pritchard (University of Hertfordshire)

We live in an age that does not want so much to know their duty as to practice it; not so much to be taught, as to be made obedient to what they have already learnt. The Introduction to Volume One of Defoe's Family Instructor (1715) makes clear that the purpose of these volumes will be didactic, offering sage advice to readers as to how to conduct their religious duties within the domestic sphere. Although conduct works were generally popular during this period, Defoe's Family Instructor was particularly successful: Volume One reached its eighth edition by 1720 and its seventeenth English edition by 1794. One reason for this success was Defoe's use of a lively format of brief dialogues between fictional characters in …

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Pritchard, Penny. "The Family Instructor". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 24 January 2002
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=899, accessed 26 September 2016.]