The harsh reality of plague asserts itself not only in Edgar Allen Poe’s story “The Masque of the Red Death,” but also in Daniel Defoe’s first-person account of the plague ravaging London in the year l665.
Perhaps more famous for his novel Robinson Crusoe, Defoe was an eyewitness to the horrors of the plague, and it is through his observations that we come to know, perhaps, the most true-to-life and believable narrations of one of humanity’s most dreadful hours.
Alas, London was to suffer even more, for in l666 the great fire broke out and destroyed much of the city, killing, as it burned, the sources of plague in the city, from where the rats carried the plague-infected fleas to the populace. For a narrative of that event we refer you to Samuel Pepys, the great diarist of the age.
But for now, we present excerpts from A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe - we begin….