William Godwin's Diary

Project Description:

William Godwin’s diary is the centrepiece of the Abinger Collection, Bodleian Library and is its most frequently consulted source. Godwin kept his diary assiduously from 1788 until his death in 1836. The diary is a resource of immense importance to researchers of history, politics, literature, and women’s studies. In its pages, one can decipher a remarkably detailed map of radical intellectual and political life in the turbulent period of the 1790s, as well as reconstruct publishing relations, conversational coteries, and theatrical production in the first third of the nineteenth century. One can also trace the developing relationships of possibly the most important family in British literature, Godwin’s own, and its links with his own intellectual and political development. Many of the most important figures in British cultural history feature in its pages including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Mary Wollstonecraft, William Hazlitt, Elizabeth Inchbald, Charles Lamb, Mary Robinson, and Thomas Holcroft, amongst many others. The key objectives of the project are: to undertake systematic research on the diary to identify those referred to in it and through this to construct a picture of London’s literary and extra-parliamentary political life between 1788 and 1836; to develop a full scholarly apparatus of indexing, annotation, and cross-reference to enhance the intelligibility of the material and allow its systematic searching; to augment the resource further by linking it directly to related electronic material; and, to provide a reliable, searchable, online transcription of the text, alongside a scanned version of the original manuscript.