William Godwin's Diary

Diary entry for 1796 List

The 1796 list is a series of names and dates that Godwin inserted into the last few pages of his diary notebook for February 1795-September 1796. He compiled the list – probably in 1805 – to map the growth and range of his acquaintance over the years 1773-1805. In some cases the names are underlined, probably an indication that the relationship was one Godwin considered particularly important.

One of the pages is of particular interest (fol. 45v. below) as Godwin selects twenty-five names from his main chronological list and puts them in order of when he made their acquaintance. It seems probable that Godwin here lists those twenty-five people he considered most significant to his life and is interested in thinking about either the longevity of those relationships or how the sequence of meeting matters or both. ‘Significant’ here has a deliberate (and inescapable) ambiguity as the list excludes, for example, Mary Wollstonecraft. Other names have then been added in the margins, which suggests that Godwin revisited this list subsequently to note other important relationships. The list appears after the entry for 24 September 1796.