Date of Award

Spring 1960

Document Type



Languages & Literature

First Advisor

Joseph Ward


The purpose of this thesis is to institute a comparison among the contemporary accounts of the Great London Plague. The contemporary accounts shall be taken from the diaries of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn, and Daniel Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year. Defoe's work, since it is more complete in its treatment of the dreadful visitation of 1665 shall be used as the basis of the comparison. The comparison shall be developed chronologically; from the inception of the plague to its cessation. The objective of the comparison shall be the demonstration of Defoe's superiority over the other two in both form and content, because of the various facets of his presentation and his fuller treatment of the plague.

These three men are contemporaries, who treat of a common incident which has been considered by scholars to be authentic. Because they treat of the same event, the comparison itself seems justifiable. The comparison consists in pointing out the major differences in their manner of handling their subject.

By way of exhortation to the reader, the author is not making general evaluation concerning these contemporaries' worth to the literary world. All evaluations of these authors are restricted to an examination of their treatment of the Great Plague of London. For practical reasons, Defoe shall he considered and referred to as the author of the Journal. The distinction between the real and fictional author shall he made only when the situation demands such. For an understanding of this statement, the author urges the reader to consult the first entry in the appendix before beginning chapter one.