The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

March 3, 2014

March 3, 1756

William Godwin (March 3, 1756 to April 7, 1836) elaborated his ideas on the problems facing the world in numerous literary works. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica:

The object of his principal work, An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, and Its Influence on General Virtue and Happiness (1793), was to reject conventional government by demonstrating the corrupting evil and tyranny inherent in its power of manipulation. He proposed in its place small self-subsisting communities. He argued that social institutions fail because they impose on man generalized thought categories and preconceived ideas, which make it impossible to see things as they are.

Godwin an early Kurzweil,  was convinced that man's reason could succeed in making human nature perfect. He married an advocate of feminine equality, Mary Wollstonecraft, and his daughter, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, married the poet Shelley. In the heady years of the French Revolution many things seemed possible, and practical experience hardly weighed in the balance. Progress seemed so obvious to liberal thinkers at the time, that it did not merit analysis. Godwin's own father after all, had been a stern fundamentalist who despised the Church of England and said that petting a cat on the Sabbath was a sin. Everywhere young intellectuals of the time looked, things seemed to be changing for the better. That the giddiness  they experienced was the result of cultural weights being shifted and merely a comparative, transient effect, they never considered. The recollection of the effervescence of youth would nourish them for decades.  

Elizabeth Robins Pennell's biography, Mary Wollstonecraft, (2008) is the source of the detail about Godwin's father. 

odnb on his WIFE mary


William Godwin (3 March 1756 – 7 April 1836) was anEnglish journalist, political philosopher and novelist. He is considered one of the first exponents of utilitarianism, and the first modern proponent of anarchism.[1] Godwin is most famous for two books that he published within the space of a year: An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, an attack on political institutions, and Things as They Are; or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams, which attacks aristocratic privilege, but also is the first mystery novel. Based on the success of both, Godwin featured prominently in the radical circles of London in the 1790s.



Mary Wollstonecraft - Page 170 --- about Wm Godwin's

Elizabeth Robins Pennell - 2008 - Preview - More editions

... one a Methodist preacher, the other a Dissenter. His father [the father of Mary's father] was a man of but little learning, whose strongest feeling was disapprobation of the Church of England, and whose "creed was so puritanical that he considered the fondling of a cat a profanation of the Lord's Day."

[Wm Godwin's parents and grandparents all respectable-- Methodists and Dissenters.]

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