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Daniel Defoe's fictional heroine Moll Flanders is famous for her criminal and sexual adventures, racily portrayed in big and small screen romps as bawdy wench, fallen woman and proto-feminist trailblazer. But who was she? And what world did she really inhabit?

To answer these questions Sian Rees takes her readers on a journey of literary and historical detection, across continents, cultures and centuries. Following Moll's tumultuous life, the story moves from Jacobean England to Jamestown, Virginia; from the English Civil War to the struggles of the Powhatan Indians; and from the metropolis of London to the hamlet of Annapolis in the early eighteenth century.

Introducing us to a rogues' gallery of real-life versions of Moll, it is as fast-moving and rich in incident as Defoe's great novel.


‘What Rees does in this engaging book is to give us the extra historical information we need to create a richer context for Moll's story’

The Guardian

‘Lively and bracing... With Rees's companionship, I finally see the point of Moll’

The Times

‘Ably and entertainingly Rees pictures Moll's world of Stuart London. She traces the sources of her remarkable story and the overlaps between Defoe's life and that of his heroine. This is a readable, informative and colourful account’

Daily Express

‘Rees is a lucid, intelligent guide’

Sunday Herald

“It was fascinating to see some of the historical figures and situations that inspired Defoe's tale, looking at the truth behind the legend. This title will appeal to those who enjoy Defoe's story, but it is also a great resource for historians interested in 17th century criminality during the age of transportation, as well as those who wish to learn more about early colonial life in America. Overall, Moll is an insightful and lovely read.”

Nicki Markus

“The book is original as it mixes the life events of a fictional character with real life events. Very enjoyable.”

Laura Van Dam - Reviewer

“While the popular view of Moll is a strumpet, Rees views her more as an independent woman relying on her wits in a society that despite its professed Christianity is remarkably cruel. Five stars.”

Stephen Rees

“An incredibly interesting book… gives a lot of context of the time.”

Georgia Grantham - Media

“I highly recommend Moll. As an historian, I was shocked at the amount of knowledge I gained through this very readable and often entertaining book. In addition, it had me heading back to the original novel to refresh my memory about Dafoe’s Moll which always is good.”

Mackey Stanley – Reviewer

“This engaging and well-written book is a happy combination of literary criticism and a study of Defoe’s novel Moll Flanders, a fictional biography of Moll herself, a biography of Defoe and a well-researched work of social history. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it wholeheartedly.”

Mandy Jenkinson - Reviewer

Buy Siân Rees