- , MAN FRIDAYAn executive's man Friday—an assistant who can be counted on to be a wholly reliable and competent overseer—gets his appellation from a character in one of the most renowned adventure novels ever. Robinson Crusoe is a work of fiction based on an almost incredible true story. It started in Scotland where Alexander Selkirk (1676-1721), a shoemaker's son, was born and raised. Young Selkirk was unhappy in Scotland, so he ran away, joining William Dempler's privateering expedition to the South Seas. It sounded romantic, but Selkirk became completely disenchanted. And so in October 1704, he asked the captain to put him ashore. The captain obliged and left him on one of the desolate Juan Fernandez islets. But Selkirk thrived for fifty-two months before being rescued by a ship that passed close to the island in 1709.This adventure, or misadventure, was recognized by Daniel Defoe as an exciting basis for a good novel. And so in 1719 the book titled The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe was published. The book gave birth to the character Friday, a man saved by Crusoe from being served for dinner to cannibals. Friday, so named because Crusoe met him on a Friday, became Crusoe's constant companion and served him in every way possible. The term man Friday ( and, in more recent times, also gal Friday) is used to this day to refer to an underling of unswerving loyalty on whom a person can rely. It frequently is used to designate a competent and dependable employee without whom the boss would surely flounder.Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) was the son of a London butcher, James Foe. The author (who changed his name to Defoe in middle life) welcomed the arrival of William of Orange in 1688 and wrote The True- Blue Englishman. An announced nonconformist, Defoe wrote, in 1702, an ironic pamphlet "The Shortest Way with the Dissenters," for which he was imprisoned for about five months. Defoe, who wrote for the Review for many years, turned to the writing of novels as he grew older. His most famous were Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders (1722).
Dictionary of eponyms. Morton S. Freeman. 2013.