Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Rosen, Marvin, 1934-2001

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of History


Godwin; William; 1756-1836


This paper focuses on the life of William Godwin as a literary worker in the latter part of the eighteenth century. With the publication of An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice in 1793, this author gained immediate fame. His prestige was increased with the publication of Caleb Williams one year later. Yet, within six short years, his reputation all but disappeared and his publications came to be regarded as literary waste. It is the purpose of the paper to show: 1) that William Godwin was unable to continue works of high quality after 1800 because of environmental pressure; 2) the influence of the market place upon many of his publications; 3) that his publishers controlled his future; 4) that this author desired neither the help of the publisher or patron, but strove for independence from both. In researching the paper, the writer studied original publications written by William Godwin prior to 1800. Although most of his original books are scarce, this writer benefited from works found at Memorial Library in Madison, Wisconsin; Newberry Library in Chicago, Illinois; and through the inter-library loan system at Northern Illinois University. This latter service provided the most important material, the Abinger Collection of William Godwin's Diary (MSS on Microfilm). This collection was graciously lent to Northern Illinois University by Duke University Library. This compilation of unpublished material allowed this writer to follow Godwin's daily account of his life in these years. It provided the factual data showing William Godwin's attempt to gain financial independence and his hatred for the control exerted by publishers.


Includes bibliographical references.


81 pages




Northern Illinois University

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