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At the National Portrait Gallery

Peter Campbell: Thomas Lawrence, 6 January 2011

... Later Mary Denham’ (1789) The drawings in the exhibition include one of Thomas Holcroft and William Godwin, as spectators at the trial of fellow radical John Thelwall, that shows every sign of being done swiftly, but delicately, on the spot; portraits like that of Mary Hamilton, made in 1789, show his flattering response to pretty women in ...

The Sage of Polygon Road

Claire Tomalin, 28 September 1989

The Works of Mary Wollstonecraft, Vols I-VII 
edited by Janet Todd and Marilyn Butler.
Pickering & Chatto, 2530 pp., £245, August 1989, 1 85196 006 6
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... about the same time a mural appeared in Somers Town, in which she figures, as well as her husband William Godwin, their daughter Mary Shelley, and a crowd of later locals which includes Dickens, who lived there as a child, though sadly not Hazlitt, whose Liber Amoris is set in Somers Town. The mural is the work of the artist Karen Gregory. It’s on the ...

Ode on a Dishclout

Joanna Innes: Domestic Servants, 14 April 2011

Labours Lost: Domestic Service and the Making of Modern England 
by Carolyn Steedman.
Cambridge, 410 pp., £21.99, November 2009, 978 0 521 73623 7
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... his household a black relative of ambiguous status, the daughter of his nephew and a slave woman. William Godwin conceived of a house with servants as ‘inhabited by two classes of being … drawn from two distinct stages of barbarism and refinement’. He imagined creeping along narrow passages to find, in a servant’s room, ‘a general air of ...

Up the Levellers

Paul Foot, 8 December 1994

The New Model Army in England, Ireland and Scotland, 1645-53 
by Ian Gentles.
Blackwell, 590 pp., £14.99, January 1994, 0 631 19347 2
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... of the English Revolution. The debate was scribbled down in shorthand by the Army secretary, William Clarke, who had a remarkable knack for appearing at and recording decisive historical events. He was, for instance, on the scaffold at Westminster 14 months later, on a cold January morning in 1649 when King Charles had his head cut off. Clarke carefully ...

Assertrix

Elizabeth Spelman: Mary Wollstonecraft, 19 February 2004

Mary Wollstonecraft and the Feminist Imagination 
by Barbara Taylor.
Cambridge, 331 pp., £45, March 2003, 0 521 66144 7
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... in 1792, but admiration for it and for Wollstonecraft soon began to evaporate, in part because William Godwin, Wollstonecraft’s husband, took it on himself after her death to reveal details about her non-marital sexual history. It is a painful but not unfamiliar paradox that a woman who was willing publicly to take on the likes of Rousseau and ...

Great Palladium

James Epstein: Treason, 7 September 2000

Imagining the King’s Death: Figurative Treason, Fantasies of Regicide, 1793-96 
by John Barrell.
Oxford, 7377 pp., £70, March 2000, 0 19 811292 0
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... lord the king’. The meaning of these strange words was already archaic in the early 1790s when William Pitt’s Government brought an array of British radical reformers to trial for high treason. The words ‘compass’ and ‘imagine’ had entered the English language from law French, and were usually glossed as meaning ‘design’ or ‘intend’. The ...

A Solemn and Unsexual Man

Colin Burrow: Parson Wordsworth, 4 July 2019

Wordsworth and Coleridge: The Radical Years 
by Nicholas Roe.
Oxford, 352 pp., £25, November 2018, 978 0 19 881811 3
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Wordsworth’s Fun 
by Matthew Bevis.
Chicago, 264 pp., £22, September 2019, 978 0 226 65219 1
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... on Wordsworth’s political beliefs. I chugged through Wordsworth’s enthusiasm for Paine and Godwin, his period in France, his excitement about the Revolution, his horror about the Terror, his decay into stodgy conservatism. My ardour cooled a little after I read Milton (himself not unsolemn or un-unsexual, and rather less volatile than Wordsworth in his ...

Lawful Resistance

Blair Worden, 24 November 1988

Algernon Sidney and the English Republic 1623-1677 
by Jonathan Scott.
Cambridge, 258 pp., £27.50, August 1988, 0 521 35290 8
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Seeds of Liberty: 1688 and the Shaping of Modern Britain 
by John Miller.
Souvenir, 128 pp., £15.95, July 1988, 0 285 62839 9
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Reluctant Revolutionaries: Englishmen and the Revolution of 1688 
by W.A. Speck.
Oxford, 267 pp., £17.50, July 1988, 9780198227687
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War and Economy in the Age of William III and Marlborough 
by D.W. Jones.
Blackwell, 351 pp., £35, September 1988, 0 631 16069 8
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Robert Harley: Speaker, Secretary of State and Premier Minister 
by Brian Hill.
Yale, 259 pp., £25, June 1988, 0 300 04284 1
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A Kingdom without a King: The Journal of the Provisional Government in the Revolution of 1688 
by Robert Beddard.
Phaidon, 192 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 9780714825007
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... where it has not been evasive. While the Dutch, in whose annals the annexation of Britain by William of Orange is a less momentous occurrence, have been celebrating it without inhibition, the response of the Mother of Parliaments was to provide a poky exhibition in the Banqueting House which was taken off before the anniversary of ...

The Positions He Takes

John Barrell: Hitchens on Paine, 30 November 2006

Thomas Paine’s ‘Rights of Man’: A Biography 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Atlantic, 128 pp., £9.99, July 2006, 1 84354 513 6
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... among others who wrote replies to Burke, along with Joseph Priestley and Mary Wollstonecraft, was William Godwin, which he wasn’t. He says that, unlike Paine, Wollstonecraft advocated votes for women, which she didn’t. Paine himself, Hitchens says, was not discouraged from writing Part One of Rights of Man by the rough treatment he received at the ...

Ink Blots, Pin Holes

Caroline Gonda: ‘Frankenstein’, 28 January 2010

The Original ‘Frankenstein’ 
by Mary Shelley, with Percy Shelley, edited by Charles Robinson.
Bodleian Library, 448 pp., £14.99, October 2009, 978 1 85124 396 9
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... acting, clearly liked ‘this nameless mode of naming the unnameable’. She told Hunt that William Godwin, her father, had brought out a new two-volume edition of the novel on the strength of the interest generated by the dramatisation. Three more stage versions of Frankenstein had opened by early September, including the burlesque Humgumption; or ...

Poor Man’s Crime

Ian Gilmour, 5 December 1991

The London Hanged: Crime and Civil Society in the 18th Century 
by Peter Linebaugh.
Allen Lane, 484 pp., £25, September 1991, 0 7139 9045 7
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... Crime is largely an activity of the poor, partly because the rich usually decide what crime is – William Godwin defined crime as ‘those offences which the wealthier part of the community have no temptation to commit’ – and partly because of the social conditions under which they live. In the 18th century those conditions were so bad that the ...

Peripheries

Charles Rzepka, 21 March 1991

The Puritan-Provincial Vision: Scottish and American Literature in the 19th Century 
by Susan Manning.
Cambridge, 270 pp., £32.50, May 1990, 0 521 37237 2
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... that which predominates in works like Hogg’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner and Poe’s ‘William Wilson’, expresses the puritan’s sense of estrangement from the state of his own soul. This estrangement heightens the impulse to self-examination at the risk of innocence. The resulting division of the self into object and observer is projected ...

Exit Humbug

David Edgar: Theatrical Families, 1 January 2009

A Strange Eventful History: The Dramatic Lives of Ellen Terry, Henry Irving and Their Remarkable Families 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 620 pp., £25, September 2008, 978 0 7011 7987 8
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... they separated within ten months. Three years after that, she took up with the architect Edward William Godwin. They did not marry, but had a daughter and son together, and the expense of their upkeep drove her back to the stage. Her performance as Portia in The Merchant of Venice drew her to the attention of Henry Irving, an emerging actor-manager who ...

Madd Men

Mark Kishlansky: Gerrard Winstanley, 17 February 2011

The Complete Works of Gerrard Winstanley 
by Thomas Corns, Ann Hughes and David Loewenstein.
Oxford, 1065 pp., £189, December 2009, 978 0 19 957606 7
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... of the Earl of Clarendon in the 17th century and of David Hume in the 18th. Even the Jacobin William Godwin, the first champion of the Civil War radicals, judged his exploits ‘scarcely worthy to be recorded’, and S.R. Gardiner’s comprehensive history of the Commonwealth contained only two references to him, one a bare mention of his name. Then ...

Forget that I exist

Susan Eilenberg: Mary Wollstonecraft, 30 November 2000

Mary Wollstonecraft: A Revolutionary Life 
by Janet Todd.
Weidenfeld, 516 pp., £25, April 2000, 0 297 84299 4
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... greater misery’, a ‘female Werther’, even a second Goethe, the still grieving widower William Godwin was forced to concede that his improbable dear was ‘what Dr Johnson would have called, “a very good hater”’. ‘Indignation,’ he noted, ‘was an emotion of which she was strongly susceptible.’ This was tactful understatement. She ...

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