William Godwin's Diary

William Godwin's Diary

Reconstructing a Social and Political Culture 1788-1836

Welcome to the award-winning digital edition of the diary of William Godwin (1756-1836). Godwin’s diary consists of 32 octavo notebooks. The first entry is for 6 April 1788 and the final entry is for 26 March 1836, shortly before he died. The diary is a resource of immense importance to researchers of history, politics, literature, and women’s studies.  It maps the radical intellectual and political life of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, as well as providing extensive evidence on publishing relations, conversational coteries, artistic circles and theatrical production over the same period.  One can also trace the developing relationships of one of the most important families in British literature, Godwin’s own, which included his wife Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), their daughter Mary Shelley (1797-1851) and his son-in-law Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822). Many of the most important figures in British cultural history feature in its pages, including Anna Barbauld, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charles James Fox, William Hazlitt, Thomas Holcroft, Elizabeth Inchbald, Charles and Mary Lamb, Mary Robinson, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, William Wordsworth, and many others.

The diary has been transcribed and encoded so that the data it contains is able to be extract. High resolution scanned images of the diary are also provided. There is also a series of podcasts available on "Judgement and Justice: The Life and Diary of William Godwin".

Those new to the resource are encouraged to refer to the Introduction to the Resource and to the section about searching the site. The diary is part of the Abinger Collection of manuscripts held in the Bodleian Library. For further details, see Abinger Collection. Further detailed work on people appearing in the Diary, that draws on diverse genealogical resources, has been undertaken by Edward Pope and is posted on his website: http://www.edpopehistory.co.uk/. This is a source of invaluable material, not all of which has been included or cross referenced here, and users of the Diary are strongly advised to consult it.

If you have questions, comments or suggestions on the website feel free to send them to: godwin.diary@politics.ox.ac.uk. You may also follow @godwindiary on twitter. In early 2012 the website won the annual award for Digital Resources from the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.