Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Jim Springer Borck

Second Advisor

John I. Fischer


This dissertation is a scholarly edition of Daniel Defoe's An Essay on the History and Reality of Apparitions, which was published in 1727 and has never been re-edited since his death in 1731. It poses several interesting problems for both the literary critic and bibliographer. This edition is challenging for the bibliographer because, initially, this work was published anonymously. The second edition appeared with the addition of "by Andrew Moreton, Esq." as author. A section of my introduction attributes this work to Defoe by using contemporary theory and methods. Defoe scholars have had a problem attributing works to Defoe. Instead estimating conservatively, they have had a tendency to identify almost any Eighteenth Century anonymous publication as by Defoe. The amount of works attributed to Defoe is staggering. Recent scholarship focuses on discarding all works formerly identified as Defoe's that are clearly not and organizes guidelines on how these materials should be reviewed. I work to establish this book as by Defoe as definitively as possible through strict bibliographic research, both internal and external. The supernatural interests the literary critic. Defoe published four non-fiction works on the occult. Part of my introduction is targeted at establishing how Defoe situated himself in the raging debate concerning apparitions, and why he felt compelled to enter the discussion. He was undermining superstition while attempting to legitimize the existence of apparitions to the sensible, sober, and religious faction of the reading public. He was caught between Hobbesian philosophy and the Cambridge Platonists trying to establish a reasonable, thoughtful explanation for the existence of apparitions and while maintaining his strong belief in God and providence. Defoe centers himself firmly in Eighteenth Century philosophy by his discussions on how guilt can effect the mind, which is a new facet to the existing arguments. Overall, my dissertation is an editorial piece. I have done substantial research for the endnotes to bring modern readers as close to the knowledge that contemporary readers of this work would have had.