The first volume of a six-book project to transcribe and edit the letters of William Godwin was published in 2011. Edited by Professor Pamela Clemit, The Letters of William Godwin Volume 1: 1778-1797 casts new light on the literary relationships of one of the most influential writers of the eighteenth century.
William Godwin was the author of Caleb Williams, one of the great novels of the 18th century, and of Political Justice, a founding text of philosophical anarchism. He was the husband of Mary Wollstonecraft, the early advocate of women’s rights; the father of Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein; and the father-in-law of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.
“The editor, Pamela Clemit, judges the tone and texture of her notes perfectly, so that the glosses to each letter are at once self-contained, engaging and accessible, as well as skilfully integrated into the volume as a whole”
Times Literary Supplement
The first volume of his letters (1778-1797) includes scores of texts newly transcribed from the original manuscripts and given scholarly annotation for the first time. They record the personal and professional interactions of an original thinker who had a lasting influence on progressive movements in Britain and Europe, and is still widely read today.
Godwin knew or corresponded with almost every one of note on the political left from the era of the French Revolution to the Great Reform Bill (1832): writers, actors, artists, journalists, economists, historians, lawyers, politicians. His letters are topical and intellectual, while also being deeply personal. The volume follows him from his education in English religious nonconformity, through his early years as a struggling writer, to his decade of fame in the era of the French revolution. It records his passionate involvement with Mary Wollstonecraft, and sheds light on many other literary, political, and artistic figures, such as Edmund Burke, Charles James Fox, Mary Hays, Elizabeth Inchbald, Thomas Lawrence, Thomas Paine, John Thelwall.
London Review of Books
This edition of the letters is the first of six projected volumes that Professor Clemit is currently working on, as General Editor of the series and Editor of Volumes I and II.
The first volume has received widespread praise in popular and academic journals. Reviews which are publicly available include the Times Literary Supplement, the London Review of Books, the Review of English Studies, Review 19, and the Contemporary Review. The Letters of William Godwin Volume 1: 1778-1797 is available from Oxford University Press.