William Godwin's Diary


Godwin often recorded his visits to various exhibitions and entertainments in London. An annotation has been provided where the exhibition has been positively identified, and in some cases we have suggested a likely possibilty.

The London newspapers indicate that there were often several art and entertainment exhibitions available for public viewing on any given day at various venues (such as ongoing Royal Academy exhibitions). Taking this into account, the ambiguous entries where Godwin has simply noted ‘Exhibition’ have not been usually been annotated. Occasionally, cross-referencing contemporary diaries has led to an identification of certain exhibitions, such as when Joseph Farington or others mentioned seeing Godwin at an opening; these sources have been checked where possible. Godwin often records ‘Exhibition’ with no further detail in the spring months following the annual Royal Academy dinners and public openings as listed in the Times. Although this remains conjectural, given the proximity to the dinners, he was likely attending a Royal Academy exhibition on these days. For example, note Godwin’s consecutive, yearly attendance of exhibitions in the month of May from 1788 – 1805, again from 1807 – 1813, 1815, 1816, 1819, and then from 1821 until the end of his life.

This was the opening week of the Royal Academy exhibition.