43 Facts About William Godwin


William Godwin was an English journalist, political philosopher and novelist.


William Godwin is considered one of the first exponents of utilitarianism and the first modern proponent of anarchism.


William Godwin wrote prolifically in the genres of novels, history and demography throughout his life.


William Godwin has had considerable influence on British literature and literary culture.


William Godwin was born in Wisbech, Isle of Ely, Cambridgeshire, to John and Anne William Godwin, becoming the seventh of his parents' thirteen children.


William Godwin's mother came from a wealthy family but due to her uncle's frivolities the family wealth was squandered.


At the local meeting house, John William Godwin often found himself sitting in "Cromwell's Chair", which had been a gift to the town by the Lord Protector.


William Godwin came from a long line of English Dissenters, who faced religious discrimination by the British government, and was inspired by his grandfather and father to take up the dissenting tradition and become a minister himself.


At seventeen years old, William Godwin began higher education at the Dissenting Academy in Hoxton, where he studied under Andrew Kippis, the biographer, and Abraham Rees, who was responsible for the Cyclopaedia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences.


William Godwin soon familiarised himself with the French philosophes, learning of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's belief in the inherent goodness of human nature and opposition to private property, as well as Claude Adrien Helvetius's utilitarianism and Paul-Henri Thiry's materialism.


In 1778, William Godwin graduated from the academy and was quickly appointed as a minister in Ware, where he met Joseph Fawcett, one of his main direct influences.


William Godwin briefly attempted to return to ministerial work in Beaconsfield, where he preached that "faith should be subordinated to reason".


William Godwin then worked for a spell as a satirical literary critic, publishing The Herald of Literature, in which he reviewed non-existent works by real authors, imitating their writing styles in lengthy quotations.


William Godwin's work was then picked up by the Political Herald, where he wrote under the pseudonym of "Mucius" in order to attack the Tories.


William Godwin subsequently reported on the Pitt ministry's colonial rule in Ireland and India; penned a history of the Dutch Revolt and predicted the outbreak of a revolutionary wave in Europe.


William Godwin first met Mary Wollstonecraft at the home of their mutual publisher.


Joseph Johnson was hosting a dinner for another of his authors, Thomas Paine, and William Godwin remarked years later that on that evening he heard too little of Paine and too much of Wollstonecraft; he did not see her again for some years.


William Godwin received further criticism because he had advocated the abolition of marriage in Political Justice.


Now William Godwin, who had been a bachelor until a few months before, was distraught at the loss of the love of his life.


When Mary was three years old, William Godwin left his daughters in the care of James Marshall while he travelled to Ireland.


William Godwin's letters show the stress he placed on giving his two daughters a sense of security.


William Godwin brought two of her own children into the household, Charles and Claire.


The eldest of William Godwin's children was Fanny Imlay, who committed suicide as a young woman.


Mary William Godwin gained fame as Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein.


William Godwin sent him first to Charterhouse School and then to various other establishments of a practical bent.


William Godwin died at 29, leaving the manuscript of a novel, which Godwin saw into print.


William Godwin did not welcome the birth of Allegra Byron, but Claire's only child died aged five.


However, William Godwin withdrew his support as Mary became a woman and pursued her relationship with Percy Shelley.


Literary critic Marilyn Butler concluded her review of a 1980 biography of William Godwin by comparing him favourably to Guy Fawkes: William Godwin was more successful in his opposition to the status quo.


In later years, William Godwin came to expect support and consolation from his daughter.


William Godwin was buried next to Mary Wollstonecraft in the graveyard of St Pancras, the church where they had married in 1797.


In 1793, while the French Revolution was in full swing, William Godwin published his great work on political science, Enquiry concerning Political Justice, and its Influence on General Virtue and Happiness.


Political Justice was extremely influential in its time: after the writings of Burke and Paine, William Godwin's was the most popular written response to the French Revolution.


William Godwin's work was seen by many as illuminating a middle way between the fiery extremes of Burke and Paine.


Caleb Williams is essentially the first thriller: Godwin wryly remarked that some readers were consuming in a night what took him over a year to write.


William Godwin, stubborn in his practice, practically lived in secret for 30 years because of his reputation.


For many years William Godwin had been "satisfied that monarchy was a species of government unavoidably corrupt," and from desiring a government of the simplest construction, he gradually came to consider that "government by its very nature counteracts the improvement of original mind," demonstrating anti-statist beliefs that would later be considered anarchist.


William Godwin saw new technology as being partly responsible for the future change in human nature into more intellectually developed beings.


William Godwin reasoned that increasing technological advances would lead to a decrease in the amount of time individuals spent on production and labour, and thereby, to more time spent on developing "their intellectual and moral faculties".


William Godwin pictured a social utopia where society would reach a level of sustainability and engage in "voluntary communism".


In July 1820, William Godwin published Of Population: An Enquiry Concerning the Power of Increase in the Numbers of Mankind as a rebuttal to Malthus' essays.


William Godwin believed that for population to double every twenty-five years, every married couple would have to have at least eight children, given the rate of childhood deaths.


William Godwin himself was one of thirteen children, but he did not observe the majority of couples in his day having eight children.