The Storm is a work of journalism & science reporting by Defoe. It has been called the first substantial work of modern journalism, the first detailed account of a hurricane in Britain. It relates the events of a week-long storm that hit London starting on 24 November & reaching its height on the night of 26/27 November 1703. Known as the Great Storm of 1703, & described by Defoe as “The Greatest, the Longest in Duration, the widest in Extent, of all the Tempests & Storms that History gives any Account of since the Beginning of Time.”

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Defoe described the storm as “the tempest that destroyed woods and forests all over England”

“Most People expected the Fall of their Houses,” wrote Defoe. Even so, they judged it safer to stay put than to seek new shelter: “Whatever the Danger was within doors, ’twas worse without; the Bricks, Tiles, and Stones, from the Tops of the Houses, flew with such force, and so thick in the Streets, that no one thought fit to venture out, tho’ their Houses were near demolish’d within.” Some of the first-hand accounts include that of Elizabeth Luck from Tunbridge Wells, who reported hundreds of trees fell down, a church lost its steeple, and two horses perished beneath a smashed stable. One Rev. James King of London told of a chimney that crashed through a house and buried a maid who was thought crushed dead, but then appeared the next morning from the rubble unharmed. Thomas Powell, a shopkeeper in Deal, was so appalled when his neighbors did not help rescue stranded sailors on a sand bar, he paid them five shillings for each rescued sailor; Defoe credited him with saving 200 lives. Defoe recounts another story of the captain of a ship who committed suicide rather than drown, only to have his ship rescued but too late for him.

Available in store and online.

 

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