Alexander Selkirk and Robinson Crusoe

Alexander Selkirk was born in Scotland in 1676, and started getting into trouble very soon afterwards. When he was nineteen, he went too far and behaved very badly in church, of all places. He was supposed to appear in court to receive his punishment, but he ran away to sea instead.

He continued making trouble for others and himself, and one day, when his ship was taking on drinking water in a group of uninhabited islands in the South Pacific, he quarreled with the captain. He then said he wanted to leave the ship and go ashore, and the captain was delighted. Selkirk reckoned that another ship would come along soon and take him back to England. He was wrong. He spent four years and four months on the island, all by himself.

Selkirk was rescued by a British ship in 1709, and soon became famous. Books and poems were written about him, and his experiences inspired the writer Daniel Defoe to write Robinson Crusoe, one of the best-loved classics of English literature. The novel has been read all over the world by millions of people, young and old, since it appeared in 1719. 

Robinson Crusoe rescues FridayRobinson Crusoe rescues Friday

Unlike Selkirk, Robinson Crusoe was not alone for long on his island. One Friday he ran into an escaped prisoner, and in the course of his years on the island he taught the man – he called him “Friday” – English and converted him to Christianity. Robinson Crusoe was a deeply religious man, and, unlike the man he was modeled on, certainly did not behave badly in church!


Find words and phrases in the text which mean the same as these Norwegian ones:

  1. oppførte seg
  2. i retten
  3. straff
  4. ubebodd
  5. gå i land
  6. for seg selv
  7. berømt
  8. i løpet av


Activities for the links below

1) Go to the first link and click on “Crusoe and Selkirk: A Comparison”. Then answer these questions by selecting the correct answer:

  1. Who was marooned to the east of South America?
  2. Whose island does not really exist?
  3. Who was shipwrecked?
  4. Whose ship was in one piece but in bad shape?
  5. Who tamed animals and by doing so solved a problem?
  6. Who was better equipped for a long stay on an uninhabited island?
  7. Whose wife died before he did?
  8. Who ran away with a girl much younger than himself?

2) The second link has a summary of the plot of Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe. When you have read it, arrange these events in chronological order:

  • Crusoe is sold into slavery.
  • Crusoe’s brothers leave home.
  • Crusoe and Friday meet.
  • Crusoe becomes religious.
  • Crusoe gets married.
  • Crusoe and Friday sail to England.
  • Crusoe is shipwrecked.
  • Crusoe tells himself that he has a better life on the island than he had in Europe.
  • Friday’s father arrives on the island.
  • Crusoe runs away from home.


Cappelen Damm

Sist oppdatert: 11.07.2013

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