One of the earliest picaresque novels in English, Moll Flanders has both captivated and shocked countless readers since it was first published in 1722. A masterpiece of fiction, written in the form of an autobiographical memoir, the novel describes Moll on the original title page as having been "Born in Newgate … Twelve Year a Whore, Five times a Wife (whereof once to her own Brother), Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon in Virginia, at last grew Rich, liv'd Honest, and died a Penitent." Daniel Defoe's roguish heroine tells the scandalous facts of her adventurous life with such simple and straightforward sincerity and with such a wealth of intimate detail that the reader is soon convinced that Moll must, indeed, be an authentic person. Having been imprisoned for political offenses and having experienced severe economic losses in his own life, Defoe demonstrates early on in this novel how circumstances and a fear of poverty can drive one into a life of crime. He writes with authority when Moll speaks of poverty as a "frightful spectre." An excellent candidate for classroom use, this classic of 18th-century fiction will entertain and enlighten general readers as well.