January, 1719. A man sits at a table, writing. Nearly sixty, Daniel Defoe is troubled with gout and the stone, burdened with a large family and debts, mired in political controversy and legal threats. But for the moment he is preoccupied by a younger man on a barren shore, Robinson Crusoe. Several miles south another old man, Robert Knox, sits bent over a heavy volume, the only book he has written, published nearly forty years before. The large folio is now worn and tattered, crammed with extra pages covered in notes and emendations.