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Robinson Crusoe at 300

Just over a week ago, on 25 April 2019, a gathering of 30 or so people came together in Kirkcaldy Galleries to mark the 300th anniversary since Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe was published. It was such a festive occasion, we felt we should share the experience!

Exhibition tour

At the core of this celebration was an informal exhibition walk-round by Roger Palmer of REFUGIO – after Selkirk after Crusoe. Roger gave a magnificent tour, explaining about his work and his interest in the Alexander Selkirk-Robinson Crusoe connection.


The proceedings then moved from the gallery to the cafe downstairs where a colourful cake (made by Kelly Smart) was cut by Roger. Added to the edible offerings were small, ‘footprinted’ chocolate bites!

As a finale, there were brief informal readings, carried out by Marilyn and Mary, two members of the Coffee Break reading group.

Readings about Crusoe & Selkirk

One read an extract from Robinson Crusoe describing his shipwreck on Más a Tierra where Crusoe realises he’s the only survivor and has landed on a fairly inhospitable-looking island. The other was an extract from Andrew Lambert’s A Visit to Robinson Crusoe’s Island printed in The Times in July 1859 (re-printed from The San Francisco Times). This described a US ship (‘The Golden Rocket’, sailing from Boston to San Francisco) stopping at Más a Tierra for supplies and describes people, the land and what grew there: ” Figs, strawberries, peaches and cherries abound in their season.”


In this 2nd reading, there is reference to the island being Robinson Crusoe’s, but also a comment about Alexander Selkirk’s time there about 150 years’ earlier. It shows quite clearly how even 150 years’ ago, the fictional character of Crusoe had become completely conflated with the real-life Selkirk – as it continues to do in 2019! It also confirms the continuing success of Defoe’s novel 300 years after he wrote it.

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