Introduction: The Radical Aesop: William Godwin and the Juvenile Library, 1805-1825

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Introduction: The Radical Aesop: William Godwin and the Juvenile Library, 1805-1825

1.        In 1813, an anonymous government spy reported to the Home Office a suspicious development in the London publishing world. Given the paranoid political culture of the time, the existence of such a report is not unusual in itself. Its importance lies in the subject of its scrutiny. The publisher in question was producing neither revolutionary pamphlets nor rabble-rousing Jacobin novels but such titles as Tom and His Cat: the Surprising History of a Good Boy (1806) and Think Before You Speak, or, The Three Wishes (1809); yet, these titles made his identity all the more alarming, for he was a known political radical:

At length Mr. J. Godwin [sic] was written on the door-post in very small letters; within a few months it appeared boldly in large letters over the door; still it is very little known that the proprietor is Godwin, the author of Political Justice. There appears to be a regular system through all his publications to supercede all other elementary books, and to make his library the resort of preparatory schools, that in time the principles of democracy and Theo-philanthropy may take place universally. [1] 
This report illustrates what Mitzi Myers, Alan Richardson, and other scholars of Romantic literature have long demonstrated: that children's literature at the turn of the nineteenth century was a site of political and ideological conflict. [2]  The spy worries about the impact of Godwin's books on young minds. As the report observes, Godwin has pseudonymously authored not one but several books for children including a mythology textbook that "artfully hints the wisdom of the morality of the heathen world" (162) and an insidious pocket dictionary, "which consists in giving only one meaning to words which have several, and omitting all such words as philosophers of the present day do not like to explain" (163, emphasis in original).

2.        The spy is concerned not only with the publisher's rhetoric but also his marketing and distribution practices. This dangerous publisher, the report warns, discounts his books "in order to allure schools of a moderate or lower class" (162). Worse still, he has written a comprehensive curriculum to indoctrinate children to his political beliefs in each facet of their early education. By offering "every work […] that can be required in the early instruction of children" (164), the Juvenile Library is a platform to trumpet "every principle professed by the infidels and republicans of these days" (164). The consequence, the report predicts, is the democratization of an entire generation, leading to the same type of social unrest that sparked the French Revolution: "By such means did Voltaire and his brethren for twenty years before the Revolution in France spread infidelity and disloyalty through the remotest provinces of that country, and we know too well how they succeeded" (164). By extension, the Juvenile Library threatens nothing less than the government's worst fears about a political uprising.

3.        This report can be read as a reflection of the intense political anxiety that colored the turn of the nineteenth century in England: it projects vast and terrible consequences contingent on the literary output of what was, in fact, a small publishing house that went out of business in the economic downturn of the 1820s. This report is certainly hyperbolic, but it is also perspicacious. As Pamela Clemit argues, a "regular system" is discernable throughout Godwin's books, a system as much political and literary as it is educational ("Philosophical Anarchism" 47). It is an interest in further investigating this "system" that initially inspired this project, which has been motivated by two central questions. First, why would Godwin—anarchist philosopher, political advocate, and successful novelist and dramatist—decide in the middle of his career to pseudonymously author, publish, and sell children's books? Second, what is the relationship between Godwin's children's books and his other writings? At first glance, Godwin's decision to publish books for children appears at once unlikely and unwise: the Juvenile Library's success depended on Godwin's anonymity because of his reputation for radical politics and loose morals. Godwin lived in dangerous times: if his customers had known his identity, he could have lost their patronage; if the government had discerned it (and deemed it threatening enough), he could have been tried or even imprisoned, as had other radical writers and publishers before him. [3]  At the same time, Godwin's involvement in the production of books for children makes perfect sense in light of his interest in the intellectual development of citizens.

4.        Long before he opened the Juvenile Library, Godwin had contemplated the role of reading in education and, ultimately, social politics. Thoughts about education permeate his works from the 1790s, from An Enquiry into Political Justice and Its Influence on Morals and Happiness (1793) to The Enquirer: Reflections on Education, Manners, and Literature (1797) and St. Leon (1799). Three years before he opened the Juvenile Library, Godwin had written a children's book for Benjamin Tabart under the pseudonym William Scolfield. Although criticized by Sarah Trimmer, Bible Stories. Memorable Acts of the Ancient Patriarchs, Judges, and Kings: Extracted from their Original Historians (1802) was successful: according to William St Clair it underwent multiple reprints and was pirated in the United States. [4]  Bible Stories' success, St Clair conjectures, likely encouraged Godwin to continue writing for children (Godwins 284). Godwin's decision to write for children appears to have been motivated by personal experience as well as professional success and interest. By the time Godwin and his second wife, Mary Jane, embarked on the Juvenile Library venture, they were raising five young children: Mary Godwin, the daughter of Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft who would eventually marry Percy Shelley and author Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus (1818), among many other titles; William Godwin, Godwin's son with Mary Jane; Fanny Imlay, Wollstonecraft's daughter with Gilbert Imlay; and Charles and Mary Jane (later Claire) Clairmont, Mary Jane's children from previous relationships. As a parent and social reformer, Godwin was keenly aware of the pedagogical needs of young readers and of the insufficiency of the books available to them. As he explains in the preface to Bible Stories, his motivations are those of a parent: "The following book is the production of a parent, who could not find, among the numerous works which for the last twenty years have been published for the use of children, one which he could with complete satisfaction put into the hands of his own." [5]  The combination of his family's pressing financial needs, his and his wife's prior experience in children's publishing, and the urging of his friend Joseph Johnson inspired Godwin to produce books for children that would further the political theories and ideals he expounded in Political Justice, The Enquirer, and his earlier novels.

5.        Although Godwin's business was not as profitable as he might have hoped, the juvenile titles he wrote and published were well received. The same critics who associated the radical Godwin with atheism, subversion, and sexual immorality often praised the children's books he wrote under his pen names: "Edward Baldwin," "William Scolfield," and "Theophilius Marcliffe." [6]  The Critical Review had "no hesitation" in recommending Marcliffe's Life of Lady Jane Grey and of Lord Guilford Dudley, her Husband (1806) to young readers, and even the conservative Anti-Jacobin Review admitted that Baldwin's History of England (1806) was "well adapted to the capacities of those for whose use it was designed," although the reviewer had misgivings about the work's rendition of the Reformation. [7]  Studying Godwin's children's books thus illuminates those tensions between mainstream readership and radical content, and between literary invention and iteration, that characterized Godwin's better-known works and those of other Jacobin writers.

6.        While literary historians have long been aware that Godwin wrote and published children's books, these works have received significantly less scholarship compared to his novels and philosophical writings. [8]  A cursory glance at the Modern Language Association's International Bibliography, for example, reveals that only 8 of the 179 books and articles about Godwin's corpus published over the last twenty years investigate his children's books or the Juvenile Library. [9]  It is difficult to determine why such a disproportion exists. One possible reason is the relative inaccessibility of Godwin's children's works. In spite of their long publication histories in the nineteenth century, these books are no longer in print today. The only exception is the 2010 facsimile edition of The Pantheon by Kissinger Publishing, which fails to identify Edward Baldwin as Godwin's pseudonym. The Pickering & Chatto edition of The Political and Philosophical Writings of William Godwin (1993) reprints the preface to Bible Stories alone among Godwin's Juvenile Library works. [10]  Available primarily in special collections, microfilm departments, or through rare book dealers, these books have limited circulation.

7.        Another reason may be one of attribution. While Godwin's pseudonyms successfully hid his identity from the majority of his buyers, they also slowed and, at times, prevented librarians from properly cataloging his works. For instance, St Clair argues that his book, The Godwins and the Shelleys: the Biography of a Family (1989), is the first work to properly attribute Bible Stories to Godwin (279). Although 23 years have passed since this attribution, the larger point is that Godwin's authorial identity remained largely unknown for 187 years; Godwin's children's books have not been part of the scholarly landscape for as long as his more recognizable works. In this, Godwin poses a challenge similar to that of his friend Mary Robinson, who published poetry under a host of pseudonyms that continue to challenge scholars trying to reconstruct her career.

8.        A third reason may simply be that Godwin does not comfortably fit within the dominant historical narrative of late-eighteenth-century children's literature as it has developed in the 1990s and 2000s. Once seen as a veritable wasteland of didactic fiction against which Romantic poets rebelled with new imaginative literature, scholars now recognize the 1790s and 1800s as a dynamic era of experimentation in children's writing and education. [11]  This recovery largely results from the work of Mitzi Myers, Alan Richardson, Norma Clarke, Pamela Clemit, and others who have demonstrated how female writers, such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Eleanor Fenn, Anna Barbauld, and Maria Edgeworth, sought to integrate learning into a fictional form that would please young readers. [12]  Such work has led to no less than the recuperation of children's didactic fiction and an expanded understanding of children's literature in this period. Nonetheless, Donelle Ruwe observes that scholars of British Romanticism continue to think of children's literature from this era in dichotomizing ways: as a struggle between books that appealed to children's imaginations (both through didactic literature and fairy tales), or books that sought simply to instruct them (2). This binary, Ruwe argues, has led scholars to overlook those authors who wrote textbooks, in particular Sarah Trimmer and William Godwin (2). Of these two authors, Godwin is especially complex because his vision of childhood—and, by extension, children's education—was an amalgam of Romantic poetic ideology, his own political philosophies, and his practical experience raising children; it was highly nuanced and always in the process of development. In The Enquirer (1797), for example, Godwin endorses imaginative freedom as a cornerstone of education when he encourages young readers to "wander in the wilds of literature." [13]  Then, in Fleetwood; or the New Man of Feeling (1805), he worries about the long-term consequences of the type of child endorsed by Rousseau and later William Wordsworth, Charles Lamb, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge as too unstructured.

9.        Whether stemming from the works' inaccessibility or misidentification or from the vicissitudes of scholarship, there is a lack of sustained study of Godwin's children's books and the Juvenile Library. This deficiency is all the more striking when we consider that Godwin's children's books (both the ones he wrote and the ones he published) were popular in their own time and remained so even after his business crumbled. Some of the books he published, such as Charles and Mary Lamb's Tales from Shakespear (1807) and the first English translation of what would later be known as The Swiss Family Robinson, remained in circulation into the twentieth century. [14]  The longstanding popularity of Godwin's children's books alone should suggest their scholarly importance to both historians of children's literature and to scholars of political and social history. So too should their influence. Godwin's ability to appeal to schoolteachers, parents, and students enabled him significantly to effect children's book production and the politics of childhood in the early nineteenth century, but it also allowed him to disseminate his beliefs on a broad scale. As St Clair argues, many of Godwin's children's books gained a wider contemporary circulation and had a longer-lasting impact than the philosophical and fictional works for which he is now most celebrated. [15]  The profound cultural impact of Godwin's children's literature—especially as an expression of his social politics—necessitates their reproduction and welcomes further critical inquiry.

10.        Making Godwin's books for children more easily available to readers will provide a clearer picture of the scope of his political vision by allowing scholars easily to access his oeuvre in its entirety. We hope this edition will supplement other editions of Godwin's collected works by making an understudied genre of his writing available for perusal. The very existence of his children's books raises questions for further study: How did Godwin envision his readership? How did his political beliefs (or their expression) change over the course of his life? What are the synergies between the various genres in which he wrote, in particular between his children's books, his novels, and his political writings? These are only a few questions we believe his children's books raise, and we hope this edition will pave the way for new scholarship on Godwin, the history of children's literature, and the history of British social and political thought at the turn of the nineteenth century.

I. The State of Publishing in the 1790s

11.        The spy report on the Juvenile Library illustrates the difficulties Godwin faced, in large part, because of the reputation he had acquired in the 1790s as a political radical. Few public figures during that tumultuous decade were as famous or as controversial in England as William Godwin. In the fearful political climate that followed the French Revolution and England's subsequent declaration of war with France, the English government kept one wary eye fixed on the Channel and the other on London radicals, political dissenters, and other dealers in unpatriotic licentiousness and "French" immorality. Godwin was an offender on all of these fronts. His visibility in the London political scene made him a hero both to mainstream Whigs and to the radical Jacobin fringe. Throughout his life, he corresponded and kept company with almost every important writer and political radical of his time, but it was his literary output in the 1790s that sealed Godwin's reputation as a Jacobin. [16]  The publication of Political Justice (1793), in which Godwin examines the philosophical principles behind the French Revolution and criticizes the role of political institutions, branded Godwin as a radical in the public opinion. Things as They Are; or The Adventures of Caleb Williams (1794) confirmed this reputation. A proto-thriller that champions individual liberty and opposition to tyranny, this novel dramatizes many of the ideas of Political Justice, and to devastating effect. Caleb Williams appeared in the same year as Cursory Strictures on the Charge Delivered by Lord Chief Justice Eyre to the Grand Jury, October 2, 1794 (1794), Godwin's defense of the radicals Thomas Hardy, John Horne Tooke, and John Thelwall during the Treason Trials of 1794. Taken as a whole, these three publications, each electrifying and each directed to a different audience, associated Godwin in the public eye with the dangerous Jacobin fringe. Godwin's candid biography of his late wife Mary Wollstonecraft, Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Women (1798), forever linked him with sexual indecency and loose morality. Memoirs' frank depictions of Wollstonecraft's love affairs, suicide attempts, and illegitimate child not only tainted Wollstonecraft's already questionable posthumous reputation but also further maligned that of her widower.

12.        Godwin was also aligned with the radical left by a government that felt itself on the brink of a revolution and reacted decisively, even draconically, to the threat posed by Godwin and his contemporaries. Parliament suspended habeas corpus in 1794, and after the failure of the treason trials of Hardy, Tooke, Thelwall, and other members of the London Corresponding Society (who were acquitted, in part, because of Godwin's efforts) as well as several sobering attacks on the King by rowdy mobs shouting for reform and bread in 1795, Parliament instituted the two so-called Gagging Acts: The Treasonable Practices Act and the Seditious Meetings Act. Both acts aimed to stifle free speech and assembly and cripple the radical movement. After 1795, it was nearly impossible to gather a group of more than fifty citizens without the threat of arrest for treason.

13.        Increased literacy and exploding literary output of this decade also played a decisive role in heightening political anxieties. While social unrest stemmed from a variety of sources—from rising prices in commodities to land enclosure to the inequalities of factory labor—the availability of printing presses and cheap paper made possible the large-scale distribution of literature, both moralizing and inflammatory. Rising print production correlates with an upsurge in literacy, especially among the lower classes. Charity schools and Sunday schools grew in this period with the primary aim of helping poor children and adults learn to read the bible. Rising literacy rates had an unintended outcome, a voracious public appetite for reading material, in particular political pamphlets. This genre was immensely popular with readers and publishers alike: pamphlets were easy to print and cheaper than books, which meant they could be produced on large scales that made them more accessible to the average citizen. [17]  Pamphlets could disseminate information and raise passions much like the large-scale gatherings outlawed by the government. For example, Thomas Paine's Rights of Man (1791), an incendiary defense of mankind's natural rights in the face of governmental tyranny, was consumed in unprecedented numbers by the newly-literate lower classes. The government responded by trying and convicting Paine of sedition, but his ideas nonetheless were influential. Godwin was not involved in the production of Rights of Man, but Paine helps illustrate both the dangers Godwin faced from government officials, and the opportunities print production offered him for sharing his ideas with a broad audience. The spy report was perhaps rightfully wary of him: Godwin was not simply a radical, but one with an interest in children's education and the means to widely produce and distribute his writings in London and across the country.

II. Children's Literature at the Turn of the Century

14.        These same coincidental forces of the marketplace and the schoolroom—the simultaneous rise in adults' and children's literacy along with the means of reproducing literature accessible to the masses—significantly altered the state of literature for children. The very concept of childhood was transformed in these decades, as the idea of childhood as a time of innocence and free play blossomed in the Romantic era from its Enlightenment beginnings. Children's literature experienced two watersheds in the eighteenth century, with the 1740s marking the beginnings of children's imaginative literature and the 1780s witnessing a shift to more didactic types of fiction. [18]  Scholars traditionally have celebrated John Newbery's A Little Pretty Pocket Book (1744) as the first book of modern children's literature (that is, the first book designed for children's amusement), even though they concede that books for children existed since at least the late seventeenth century, many of which, as F.J. Harvey Darnton argues, were designed to give children "the highest pleasure, that of studying and enjoying the Will of God" (53). Nevertheless, scholars find something distinct about Newbery's fiction for children: its playfulness. With their decorative bindings, witty titles, and accompanying toys, Newbery's books self-consciously were designed to appeal to children. Newbery published a variety of children's works, from ABCs to science books to miscellanies, but it is his juvenile fiction that came to epitomize what Darnton calls Newbery's "'plumb cake' and morality" literary style characterized by its lighthearted tone and educational purpose (125). The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes; Otherwise Called Mrs. Margery Two-Shoes (1765), arguably one of his most famous publications, presents adventures similar to those found in longer novels, but abridged into a shorter, child-focused story. Goody Two-Shoes provided instructive life lessons, but it did so in ways that readers presumably found enjoyable. It remained in print throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and Mary Jackson observes that it even experienced a resurgence during World War II. [19] 

15.        Less than half a century after the first edition of Goody Two-Shoes, a more moralistic and instructive movement in children's fiction competed and eventually edged out Newbery's books, figuratively and literally. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, Romantic-era writers such as Charles Lamb looked back fondly on the 1740s and 1750s as a golden age of children's books, one that was being eradicated by what he refers to in a letter to Samuel Taylor Coleridge as the "cursed Barbauld crew." Their didactic fiction, he complains, had all but supplanted Goody Two-Shoes and fairy tales:

Goody Two Shoes is almost out of print. Mrs. Barbauld['s] stuff has banished all the old classics of the nursery; and the Shopman at Newbery's hardly deign'd to reach them off an old exploded corner of a shelf, when Mary ask'd for them. Mrs. B's and Mrs. Trimmer's nonsense lay in piles about. Knowledge insignificant and vapid as Mrs. B's books convey, it seems, must come to a child in the shape of knowledge, & his empty noddle must be turned with conceit of his own powers […] instead of that beautiful Interest in wild tales, which made the child a man, while all the time he suspected himself to be no bigger than a child […] Think what you would have been now, if instead of being fed with Tales and old wives fables in childhood, you had been crammed with Geography & Natural History? Damn them. I mean the cursed Barbauld Crew, those Blights & Blasts of all that is Human in man and child. [20] 
In actuality, this "crew" was a diverse and unconnected group of writers which included the Christian moralist Sarah Trimmer, the conservative social reformer Hannah More, the more liberal educators Maria Edgeworth and Anna Barbauld, the popular novelist Charlotte Smith, and the radical Mary Wollstonecraft, among others. Though personally and politically distinct, their work coheres in what Lamb derisively perceives to be an interest in teaching children intellectual and ethical lessons in real-world settings. Lamb's and other Romantic writers' denigration of these authors has influenced their historical reputation as prudes and pedants—a reputation that Myers, Richardson, Clarke, and others have exploded. However unfair and obsolete this reputation, there is a grain of truth to it: these authors did write stories embedded in the realities of domestic life in order to train their young readers to enter a world of social dislocation, inequality, and injustice. While Margery Two-Shoes enjoys a change of fortune from shoeless orphan to wealthy heiress, her successors in Smith, Wollstonecraft, and More experience little of her economic or social mobility. They face worlds populated by begging veterans, ragged orphans, and young women consigned to lives of genteel poverty because unable to earn an independent wage and unable (or unwilling) to marry. In this setting, there are no opportunities for Margery's entrepreneurism; protagonists must learn obedience, kindness, frugality, and fortitude as well as duty to family, community, country, and God. The same types of rewards Margery enjoys are no longer available; readers (and characters) must learn to cope with the world as they find it.

16.        These didactic writers' realistic styles are as much expressions of their social politics as they are of their views about children's reading materials. Wollstonecraft, Trimmer, Edgeworth, Smith, and Barbauld differed politically, but they were united in their distrust of so-called imaginative fiction (such as fairy tales and romances) as wasteful, self-indulgent, and confusing to children. While Myers and Richardson have shown that these authors appropriated fairy tale elements in their work, their stories generally discouraged flights of fancy; instead, they inspired young readers to learn about and take pleasure in the world around them. [21]  Smith's Rural Walks (1795), for example, teaches young women poetry, Linnean botany, and history, as well as domestic philanthropy through the Woodfield and Cecil children's daily rambles in the countryside. It is precisely this turn to practical and scientific knowledge that Lamb finds so offensive, a blight on children's literature and, by extension, childhood itself. In this view Godwin agrees with Lamb. In the preface to Bible Stories he laments that, a generation hence, young people "will be able to tell you from what part of the globe you receive every article of your furniture; and will explain the process of manufacturing a carpet," but will have no access to imagination, for Godwin that "most essential branch of human nature" and "the ground-plot upon which the edifice of a sound morality must be erected" (313-314).

17.        With their impassioned defenses of imagination, Lamb and Godwin bespeak a new definition of childhood that came into vogue during the Romantic period. Goody Two-Shoes was written for a child who was still considered a blank slate who must be taught social morality, a concept articulated by John Locke in the late seventeenth century. By the mid eighteenth century, however, Jean Jacques Rousseau's controversial depiction of the education of a natural man, Émile, ou de L'Éducation (1762), insisted that childhood was not simply a time of social inexperience but of innocence, which children should spend in nature and only slowly be introduced into the world after puberty. Despite resistance to Rousseauvian pedagogy by educators such as Mary Wollstonecraft and Maria Edgeworth (who both rejected Rousseau's depictions of female education as reductive and antirational) and Godwin himself, Émile significantly influenced the idea of childhood in the 1790s in Britain. Rousseau's vision of youthful development—especially that of boys—inspired Romantic poets such as William Blake, Samuel Coleridge, and William Wordsworth who, in turn, portrayed childhood as a time of angelic or primeval innocence, which should be unfettered from social responsibilities. This conception led to these poets' celebration of fairy tales and indigenous myths that had been long relegated to servants and peasants, but which they believed represented a simpler society associated with childhood.

18.        It is, in part, the reintroduction of fairy tales into the nursery that writers such as Barbauld, Smith, and Trimmer opposed, even as they appropriated fairy-tale elements into their own literature; they dismiss fairy tales as antirational, more appropriate to the poetic concept of childhood than the actual practice of raising children. Distrusting fantasy literature, Barbauld, Trimmer, Edgeworth, and others instead sought to amuse children by engaging them in realistic narratives in which good does not always triumph over evil, and virtue is not always rewarded. Fairy tales, romances, and some novels, they feared, beguiled children's understandings; romances and novels impeded their emotional and intellectual developments by habituating them to heightened passions or by raising their sentimental expectations. From the radical Wollstonecraft to the conservative Trimmer, these authors sought to inculcate the young reader with a sense of duty and position and offer moral guidance.

19.        Though similar in the value they place on education and the genres in which they wrote, there were importance differences between these authors, especially surrounding questions of class mobility and religion. Moral guidance offered by Wollstonecraft, Smith, and Edgeworth was more social than spiritual; inset tales in Original Stories from Real Life (1788) and Rural Walks (1795), for example, encourage charitable benevolence and kindness to animals, while stories like Edgeworth's "Lazy Lawrence" (1800) teach the value of hard work. Trimmer also offers these lessons, especially in her popular Fabulous Histories. Designed for the Instruction of Children Respecting their Treatment of Animals (1786), but she also includes religious lessons in her works, admonishing readers that conformity to mainstream religion was a means to spiritual salvation. Much like Godwin, Trimmer was dissatisfied with the literature available to children, but their similarities confined themselves to this concern. In reality, they were opposed in their politics and philosophy. Trimmer, a High Church educator and mother of twelve, felt that contemporary literature for children was so spiritually (and developmentally) misguided that all but a few carefully chosen works would corrupt young minds. In 1802 she started the Guardian of Education, a periodical review of children's literature closely modeled on the Anti-Jacobin Review, the publication that sought to controvert the perceived threat of Jacobin principles in England following the French Revolution. The comparison is not merely formal. Like the Anti-Jacobin, the Guardian's reviews uncover dangerous and subversive elements, but for literature written to a much younger audience. [22]  That children's literature should receive the same treatment as revolutionary pamphlets and Jacobin novels—both in the Guardian of Education and in the spy's report— illustrates how strong the perceived link was in this period between the expanding children's book trade and radical politics. [23]  To Trimmer and her cohort of conservative writers, the problem with fairy tales and fanciful stories is not that they cultivated imagination per se, but that they encouraged children to imagine social milieus other than the ones to which they were born; they encouraged them to imagine the wrong sorts of things. For Trimmer, this type of thinking was synonymous with dangerous liberalism and radical, democratic ideas. [24] 

III. Godwin's Educational Philosophy

20.        Trimmer excoriated Godwin's first children's book, Bible Stories (published under the pseudonym William Scolfield), for treating "the Histories in the Bible" as "common histories for children"—that is, for ranking the "sacred writers who penned what the Holy Ghost dictated […] with the authors of profane history." [25]  The work's treatment of scripture offended Trimmer, but she was even more alarmed by the educational philosophy that underwrote this treatment. As Godwin explains in the preface to Bible Stories, religious lessons have been purposefully avoided in order "to interest the youthful imagination" (315). For Trimmer, this decoupling was not merely profane; it was morally catastrophic precisely because it encouraged unregulated fantasy. She rejected the work out of hand and advised others to do the same: "we hope every parent […] will discern the folly, as well as wickedness, of leaving children to form their own principles and regulate their own manners, without lesson or rule, as the wild flights of an unbridled imagination shall direct" (211). For Godwin, however, this detachment epitomized his belief that imagination and autonomy were the bedrocks of youthful development; the qualities that Trimmer abhorred were, in fact, the cornerstone of Godwin's entire system of education.

21.        Alongside The Enquirer, Godwin regarded the preface to Bible Stories as his most comprehensive articulation of his pedagogical philosophy. He referred Joseph V. Bevan to these two works in his "Letter of Advice to a Young American" (1818), and the preface was the only aspect of his children's books to be included in his collected works. As a document, it encapsulates a vision that Godwin had spent the first part of his career contemplating. For Godwin, education was the origin of political action. As he states in The Enquirer: "the cause of political reform, and the cause of intellectual and literary refinement, are inseparably connected" (79). Social change required education, which catalyzed intellectual and moral abilities.

22.        Clemit summarizes Godwin's educational vision as contingent on three central ideas, which, she argues, later shaped his children's books. [26]  First, Godwin argues that children's education should inculcate intellectual habits rather than simply teach facts. Such habits will enable children to engage complicated issues as mature adults; they will provide, as Godwin describes, "against the age of five and twenty, a mind well regulated, active, and prepared to learn" (Enquirer 115). This prioritization, he believed, would help children learn to judge the world around them according to the dictates of their conscience rather than an external authority. The second idea of his educational vision is the commitment to children's autonomy, especially in their choice of reading materials. Choosing their own books, he argues, acclimatizes children to independent thought. Literature also encourages imagination, the third tenet of his philosophy, and one that Godwin argued in the preface to Bible Stories was central to the development of sympathy and morality (313-314).

23.        This educational philosophy espoused a radically different concept of childhood than that envisioned by Trimmer or More or even more liberal writers such as Wollstonecraft or Barbauld. It rejects both the idea that children, born with the taint of Original Sin, must learn submission and also the belief that children's educations required constant management. Instead, Godwin trusts children to guide themselves even as he recognizes the necessity of some adult supervision in learning. Godwin was conscious of the problematic relationship between education and the type of personal autonomy he felt would lead to intellectual curiosity, sympathy, and self-governance. As he declares in The Enquirer: "It were to be wished that no human creature were obliged to do any thing but from the dictates of his own understanding. But this seems to be, for the present at least, impracticable in the education of youth," as children require teachers to explain new concepts or complicated ideas (123-124). The answer, he argues, is to acknowledge and then palliate this tyranny by allowing children to drive the course of learning with their educators (whether teachers, parents, or books) serving as firm but mild masters (Enquirer 122-123).

24.        Autonomy, imagination, and intellect exist symbiotically in Godwin's paradigm: they develop in response to each other as the child learns. While The Enquirer and preface to Bible Stories outline this philosophy, it also finds a clear expression in Godwin's novel Fleetwood; or the New Man of Feeling (1805), which devotes nearly a third of its narrative space to a discussion of learning. The personal experiences of William Ruffigny—a central character that spends his childhood working in a silk mill in Lyons— argue powerfully that intellectual freedom requires physical freedom: "Every boy learns more in his hours of play, than in his hours of labour. In school he lays in the materials of thinking; but in his sports he actually thinks: he whets his faculties and he opens his eyes." [27]  Childish romping allows the mind to connect with and enliven the raw materials of the schoolroom. More important, it enables an ingrained desire for mental freedom, since "the mind of a child is no less vagrant than his steps; it pursues the gossamer, and flies from object to object lawless and unconfined" (Fleetwood 150). While Trimmer fears that such unmanaged thoughts could lead to moral corruption, Godwin regards them as necessary for the growth of mental and moral faculties.

25.        As in Fleetwood, Godwin envisions a similar intellectual vagrancy in his educational writings, which encourage pupils to "wander in the wilds of literature" without adult restraint (Enquirer 142). Unlike other educational writers, Godwin was confident that the benefits of reading independently would outweigh any concerns about content or style (Enquirer 142). Literature held so central a place in Godwin's educational philosophy that in The Enquirer he prioritizes it over other forms of instruction. The very format of the written word, he insists, encourages rational, well-regulated minds. The diversity of books available also proves useful: "Books gratify and excite our curiosity in innumerable ways. They force us to reflect. They hurry us from point to point. They present direct ideas of various kinds, and they suggest indirect ones" (Enquirer 142). Even as they encourage crucial intellectual habits, books also teach children to sympathize with others by allowing them to project themselves into the experience of the author or character, "to feel his feelings, and wish his wishes" (preface to Bible Stories 313). It is this type of sympathy—imaginative and directed outward toward others—that Godwin sees as critical to his moral philosophy. Better readers make better citizens, and this process should begin as early as possible.

IV. The Foundation and Productions of Godwin's Juvenile Library

26.        Seen in this context, Godwin's turn to writing children's books is a natural outcome of his educational vision. Godwin's first children's book, Bible Stories, was published in 1802 for Benjamin Tabart, a children's book publisher for whom Mary Jane Godwin had prepared and translated texts in the years immediately following her marriage to Godwin. Though published under Tabart's imprint, Bible Stories was a fitting genesis for the Godwins' Juvenile Library. Its criticisms of the contemporary children's book market and suggestions for alternatives read as a call to arms for the fresh type of educational literature that Godwin's own publishing company would produce, one that encouraged the natural flexibility of young minds and resisted the current drive toward juvenile literature preaching obedience, virtue, and accomplishment over playfulness, accessibility, and imagination.

27.        In 1805—the same year that Fleetwood was published—Godwin and his wife opened the Juvenile Library, a small store off Oxford Street funded by subscriptions from Godwin's rich admirers (including his future son-in-law, Percy Shelley). [28]  Their venture was aided by Mary Jane's relative familiarity with the children's book market, by the advice of Godwin's friend Joseph Johnson, a radical publisher who had enjoyed some success in producing children's books (including Wollstonecraft's Original Stories from Real Life in 1788), and by their friend, radical author Eliza Fenwick, who served briefly as the shop's manager and contributed two titles to its roster. [29]  The business was initially registered under the name of Thomas Hodgkins, the store manager, in order to disguise Godwin's involvement from the government and general public, but when the Godwins discovered that Hodgkins was stealing from them, they shifted ownership to Mary Jane. In 1807, the business moved to a new location at 41 Skinner Street, a run-down building within earshot of the public executions at Newgate and close enough to Smithfield to reek of slaughter. The family lived in the upper floors, and Godwin was careful never to be seen in the shop itself. It was renamed the City Juvenile Library, and its front door and title pages carried the name of M.J. Godwin, which St Clair conjectures might have been an obfuscating attempt to attach themselves to the unrelated and respectable bookseller "John Godwin," since passers-by seem to have read the plaque as "M. J. Godwin" (Godwins 174). The business moved to 195 Strand in 1822, but failed in the financial crash of 1825, the burden of having been funded almost entirely by loans swallowing all its modest profits. Between its foundation in 1805 and its eventual dissolution in 1825, the Godwins (under both imprints) published only around sixty titles, but these titles included such milestones as the Lambs' Tales From Shakespear and the first English translation of J.D. Wyss's Swiss Family Robinson (originally published as The Family Robinson Crusoe) as well as the ten books by Godwin himself, most of which ran into multiple editions in England and the United States even after Godwin's death in 1836. [30] 

28.        The divide between Godwin's experiences writing about educational reform and producing books to meet the needs of schools and schoolchildren was often striking. Much of the Juvenile Library's success depended upon the lucrative business of supplying textbooks to schools, requiring Godwin to negotiate the delicate territory between publishing books that would reflect his own philosophies and would succeed in the competitive schoolbook market. Confronting the realities of readers who differed in class, gender, and educational backgrounds from the abstract child he envisions in The Enquirer likely refined Godwin's education vision; at the very least, they forced him to moderate the content of the books he published. Such negotiations are visible in a letter to Charles Lamb in which Godwin insists that Lamb curtail the gore present in his manuscript of The Voyage of Ulysses (1808) on the grounds that such violence would make the text impossible to sell to girls' schools:

We live in squeamish days. Amid the beauties of your manuscript, of which no man can think more highly than I do, what will the squeamish say to such expressions as these? ‘devoured their limbs, yet warm & trembling, lapping the blood.' p.10, or to the giant's vomit, p. 14, or to the minute & shocking description of the extinguishing the giant's eye, in the page following. You I daresay have no formed plan of excluding the female sex from among your readers, & I, as a book-seller, must consider that, if you have, you exclude one half of the human species. [31] 
Godwin's concerns are simultaneously pragmatic and pedagogical. From a business perspective, he worries that the work's present carnage will deter young women (and their families and teachers) from purchasing it; he is concerned about the potential fiscal consequences of Lamb's rhetoric. As an educator, though, he fears that such revulsion will lead to deficits in young women's knowledge of the classics; since girls were rarely taught ancient languages, retellings like Lamb's might be their only exposure to Homer. [32]  He faced a similar issue with his own text, The Pantheon; in 1810, Godwin had to commission the re-engraving of four of the illustrations to drape cloaks and fig-leaves over nude figures of Venus, Apollo, Mercury, and Mars in order to secure a lucrative order from Dr. Burney's school in Greenwich.

William Mulready, Venus from The Pantheon 1806 (l) and 1810 (r); Courtesy of The New York Public Library.

William Mulready, Apollo from The Pantheon 1806 (l) and 1810 (r); Courtesy of The New York Public Library.

William Mulready, Mercury from The Pantheon 1806 (l) and 1810 (r); Courtesy of The New York Public Library.

William Mulready, Mars from The Pantheon 1806 (l) and 1810 (r); Courtesy of The New York Public Library.

The Juvenile Library thrust the philosopher into the nitty-gritty details of the publishing world, where he had to translate his untested theories of education into the practice of instructing and delighting his young readers.

29.        Though Bible Stories was never reissued under Godwin's own imprint, it serves as a template for his later children's books. Godwin consciously eschewed a theological framework on the grounds that his intended audience were not developmentally ready to learn about religion: "The mysteries of religion […] are not proper topics upon which to exercise the imperfect and infant understanding of children." He claims that introducing children to "the abstrusenesses of scripture, before his mind was ripe enough to feel its merits" will merely disgust them (preface to Bible Stories 314). Instead, he detaches religion from the religious narratives, presenting the bible "merely as historical, as tales of ancient times" since "there are no stories in the world so exquisitely fitted to interest the youthful imagination" than those found in scripture (315). When presented as a "posy of sweet smelling flowers, with out one shrub of evil scene, or a single thorn," scripture becomes a developmentally adaptable means to learn about religion (315). The lack of a moralizing narrator accords an unprecedented autonomy to children and to their parents. Depending on the child, the text can serve as a means to explain the nature of God or simply as a collection of adventure stories devoid of any supernatural associations. This treatment of sacred scripture as secular literature antagonized Godwin's contemporary critics, especially Trimmer. Nonetheless, its preface remains one of Godwin's most straightforward assessments of his own children's literature as a new—and necessary—intervention in the genre. All of Godwin's Juvenile Library productions share Bible Stories' core projects: to reject the prevalent trend towards didacticism in children's literature; to provide a literary alternative adapted to children's capacities and designed to engage their attention; and to raise the type of thinking, feeling populace he envisions in Political Justice and his other works. In effect, his children's books sought to plant the seeds of dissent and intellectual autonomy in a new generation of readers.

30.        As in Bible Stories, Godwin makes a claim for the dual importance of imagination and intellect in the Advertisement to Outlines of English Grammar (1810), his abridgement of William Hazlitt's A New and Improved Grammar of the English Tongue, which Godwin also published earlier that same year:  [33] 

There are two qualities especially necessary to any considerable improvement of the human mind, imagination, and the habit of considering things, with precision and order. Without the last of these, we are exposed to the danger of being constantly deceived; our opinions have no standard; but are entirely at the mercy of our age, our country, the books we chance to read, or the company we happen to frequent. (Outlines v-vi)
Outlines invokes the radical grammarian (and treason trial defendant) John Horne Tooke on its very first page, a citation which suggests the text's agenda: that universal access to the laws and principles of language can act as a leveling influence on society, and that a knowledge of English grammar, learned in one's youth, can best equip future citizens to make well-informed decisions. [34]  The idea implicit in the above passage is that the cultivation of independent thinkers will allow the next generation of readers to question the assumptions of "our age" and "our country."

31.        Such references are not anomalous. As Clemit argues, Godwin's children's books contain numerous, subtle, but discernible moments of subversion, the very qualities suggested by the spy report with which this study opens ("Philosophical Anarchism" 47). Despite his flaws as a businessman, Godwin was acutely aware that outright radicalism would spell disaster for the venture on which his family's livelihood depended. Just as he could not claim authorship of these texts or ownership of the Juvenile Library itself, nor could he safely publish materials that openly questioned King, Church, Parliament, or the supremacy of any of those institutions. Yet, the author of Political Justice and the authors Scolfield, Baldwin, and Marcliffe were very much the same man, and the Juvenile Library productions ask, and at times require, young readers to question the world around them.

32.        The first text that Godwin both authored and published under his own imprint, Fables Ancient and Modern. Adapted for the Use of Children from Three to Eight Years of Age (1805), was his most successful; the Juvenile Library published eleven known editions between 1805 and 1824, including a French translation by Mary Jane Godwin. [35]  The frontispiece contains an illustration by William Mulready (the artist whom Godwin immortalizes in The Looking-Glass) of Aesop instructing a group of children. Mulready borrowed the image from a statue that Godwin had installed over the door at Skinner Street, and Godwin seems to have embraced Aesop as a kind of totem, claiming in the Fables' preface to have "fancied [himself] taking the child upon [his] knee" like the figures in the statue and illustration.  [36] 

William Mulready, Frontispiece from Fables Ancient and Modern (1805); Courtesy of The New York Public Library.

Despite the inherently didactic nature of Aesop's fables, Godwin refrains from preaching to his readers, instead adopting a simple and direct style to inspire reflection. He also radically edits or completely re-conceptualizes these stories. For example, he insists on providing his readers with "happy and forgiving" endings, often resulting in fables that seem to lack a moral compass. This apparent lack of guidance infuriated Trimmer, who claimed that Fables' happy endings "prevent the proper discrimination betwixt virtue and vice, which children should be led to make at as early a period as possible […] the public is presented with a set of fanciful stories, destitute, for the most part, of moral, and everything else that should characterize a Fable Book." [37]  This appears to have been Godwin's point: the very lack of obvious, tidy morals encourages free-thinking liberality in his child readers. Godwin's characters confront injustices that invite his young readers to consider the consequences of social customs and laws and, at times, to arrive at their own conclusion even before the characters do. The tale of "The Wolf and the Mastiff," for example, reads as a miniature Caleb Williams, with its two "animals originally of the same class, only with a little difference in [their] education" debating the merits of freedom, service, and the individual will in a society ruled by masters (140).

William Mulready, "The Wolf and the Mastiff" from Fables Ancient and Modern (1807); Courtesy of The New York Public Library.

33.        Baldwin's next book, The Pantheon; or Ancient History of the Gods of Greece and Rome (1806) was Godwin's attempt to supplant the Pantheon of the Heathen Gods and Illustrious Heroes, a French text translated into English by Andrew Tooke in 1698 that was the standard mythology textbook for eighteenth-century English schoolchildren. Along with Fables, the Pantheon was one of Godwin's most successful works for children, running into multiple editions throughout the nineteenth century. [38]  John Keats owned a copy which was found among his possessions when he died in Italy, and critics have noted that Keats's idiosyncratic treatment of the titans in Hyperion and Endymion are indebted to the Pantheon. [39]  Godwin dedicated the Pantheon to the Reverend Matthew Raine, the master of Charterhouse school, probably in the hopes that such flattery would establish a relationship between the great school and the small bookseller. [40]  Godwin's preface positions his Pantheon as a fresh alternative to its dull and "malicious" predecessors. He attacks Tooke specifically for his heavy-handed moralizing and repeated insistence on the superiority of Christianity over ancient paganism. [41]  Unlike Tooke's "elaborate calumny upon the Gods of the Greeks […] in the coarsest thoughts and words that rancour could furnish," Godwin's text glows with respect for the characters, customs, and ideas of the ancient world. In so doing, he suggests to his young readers that the modern world can, in fact, learn from the pagan past. Moreover, unlike other mythologies, the title page of Godwin's Pantheon addresses itself to "young persons of both sexes," opening the beauties of the classical world to girls as well as boys. [42] 

34.        The last paragraph of the Pantheon's preface provides a précis of Godwin's goals for his text:

The uses of the study of ancient mythology are, 1. to enable young persons to understand the system of the poets of former times, as well as the allusions so often to be found interspersed in writers of a more recent date: 2. as a collection of the most agreeable fables that ever were invented, it is admirably calculated to awaken the imagination; imagination, which it cannot be too often repeated, is the great engine of morality: 3. it presents us with an instructive lesson on the nature of the human mind, laying before us the manners and prejudices of a nation extremely different from our own, and showing us to what extravagant and fantastic notions of the invisible world the mind, once bewildered in error, may finally be led. [43] 
Here, Godwin returns to some of his favorite themes: the fact that these tales are valuable because "agreeable" to young minds, the idea that imagination (that "great engine of morality") is essential to child readers, and the idea that children can benefit from observing cultural differences. The final sentence can be read as both a defense of his project and, in a broader sense, a swipe at his own, modern world; the idea of minds "bewildered in error" and in need of guidance suggests a stark comparison between the classical world that Godwin's text venerates and his own war-torn and divided nation.

35.        Baldwin's other major works —The History of England (1806), History of Rome (1809), and History of Greece (1821)—continued to entertain young readers while challenging their assumptions. These texts' emphases on reflection, rather than the rote memorization of facts, made them innovative within their contemporary market. In these histories, aspects of Godwin's political agenda become clearer. In The History of England (1806), for example, Godwin devotes a chapter to Oliver Cromwell, and according to his chapter heading, Cromwell "governed this nation with more vigour and glory, than any king that ever sat upon the throne." Similarly, Godwin's chapter on the aftermath of the War of the Roses ends with a leading question that he refuses to answer: "Was he [Perkin Warbeck] the Duke of York, or was he an imposter? in other words, Which was the true murderer, Richard III, or his accuser, Henry VII? This is one of the most difficult questions in history." [44]  As Clemit notes, the mere mention of the pretender Perkin Warbeck within a discussion of British kings calls the absolute authority of the monarchy into question ("Philosophical Anarchism" 66-67). [45]  By withholding an answer to this "difficult question," Godwin simultaneously challenges his young readers to think critically about national history and to question the institution of the monarchy itself. The History of England contains other critiques of royal power. Godwin, for example, first describes Edward III as "like too many other kings and heads of nations, he desired to be a conqueror" and then immediately defines "conqueror" as "a man who sallies forth at the head of an army, to disturb the peace and repose of honest, unoffending husbandmen, peasants and artisans: he causes the death of thousands, and reduces nations to slavery, that he may become famous and have songs made in his praise" (79-80). Similarly, in the chapter on James I, Godwin depicts that monarch as a "pedant" who was "not fit" for rule. Godwin describes James's declaration "that it would be sedition in them [Parliament] to dispute what a king might do in the heights of his power" as "very foolish talk," a passage which not only suggests that a king can be foolish, but also flatly rejects the power of the monarchy over Parliament (128). [46]  Such persistent questioning of institutions makes The History of England as much of a treatise on contemporary politics as a lesson in history.

36.        In that same year, but under the Marcliffe pseudonym, Godwin also produced Life of Lady Jane Grey and of Lord Guilford Dudley, her Husband (1806), a hybrid of history and biography. Like The History of England, it repeatedly condemns religious zealots and praises its primary subject, represented as an educated, free-thinking woman victimized by small-minded reactionaries and a tyrannical ruler. A similar theme is pursued in The Looking-Glass (1805), Godwin's paean to his illustrator William Mulready, which provides artistic child-readers with an example to emulate (an idea hammered home by the epigraph from Shakespeare: "Emulation has a thousand sons"). History of Rome (1809) and History of Greece (1821) are also noteworthy for their attempts to establish early democratic principles as ideals that were innate and are still applicable to the nineteenth century (a particularly pertinent claim for the last title, published in during the War of Greek Independence). Unlike most contemporary publications, these histories and biographies insist that history should be learned not merely by the memorization of facts but through reflection on ideas. They also planted seeds in their young readers: the ideas that the monarchy should be questioned, that power can be abused, and that attention paid to the lessons of the past can make for better citizens of the future.

V. Conclusion

37.        Godwin was never accused of being a shrewd businessman: although moderately successful in terms of sales and contracts, the Juvenile Library was founded almost entirely on borrowed money. Godwin often took a flippant attitude towards matters of finance, and, as Kinnnell explains, the company did not sufficiently advertise in provincial newspapers, thereby missing a valuable, growing market of rural readers (80). [47]  These forces combined with the market crash of 1825 to bankrupt the business, which closed its doors in that year. Despite its failure as a business, the books published by the Juvenile Library profoundly contributed both to the contemporary children's book market and to our understanding of Godwin's own educational and philosophical ideas.

38.        When viewed in light of his particular political and social milieu and the general atmosphere of change surrounding publishing and childhood in the early nineteenth century, Godwin's books for children must be read as an extension of his political writings, which themselves became increasingly focused on the role of education in social change. Political Justice's idea that human progress starts with individuals, not institutions, situates Godwin's professed faith in his young readers as autonomous creatures in a new and decidedly politicized context; it forms the foundation to his later writings for adults and for children. For if—as Godwin believed—behavior is determined by opinion, and opinion is determined by cultural environment, then literature can shape that environment and thus the basic fabric of society. The panicked claims of a government spy in 1813 are not entirely unfounded. Godwin did indeed strive to make his books widely available to schoolchildren in order to spread ideals of democracy; he did promote the values of Greece and Rome and attempt to make them available to all children of either sex and any class; and he did view his publishing venture as a means to disseminate "every principle professed by the infidels and republicans of these days" (qtd in Mac-Carthy 164). By producing and promoting literature that encourages children to think for themselves, question alleged truths, and value their imaginative faculties, Godwin continued to spread radical ideas and, more importantly, incorporated them into a realistic pedagogical methodology that was successfully bequeathed to the next generation.

Works Cited and Suggestions for Further Reading

Alderson, Brian. "'Mister Gobwin' and his 'Interesting Little Books, Adorned with Beautiful Copper-Plates'" Princeton University Library Chronicle 59 (Winter 1998): 159-189. Print.

Anderson, Rob. "Godwin, Keats, and Productive Literature" Wordsworth Circle 33 (Winter 2002): 10-13. Print.

Bottoms, Janet. "'Awakening the Mind:' the Educational Philosophy of William Godwin" History of Education 33 (May 2004): 267-282. Print.

Clarke, Norma. "'The Cursed Barbauld Crew": Women Writers and Writing for Children in the Late Eighteenth Century" Opening the Nursery Door: Reading, Writing and Childhood 1600-1900. Ed. Mary Hilton, Morag Styles, and Victor Watson. New York: Routledge, 1997. Print.

Clemit, Pamela. "Philosophical Anarchism in the Schoolroom: William Godwin's Juvenile Library, 1805-25" Biblion 9 (Fall 2000 and Spring 2001): 44-70. Print.

Clemit, Pamela. "William Godwin's Juvenile Library" The Charles Lamb Bulletin (July 2009): 90-99. Print.

Darnton, F.J. Harvey. Children's Books in England: Five Centuries of Social Life. London: The British Library, 1982. Print.

Fearn, Margaret. "William Godwin and the ‘Wilds of Literature'" British Journal of Educational Studies 29 (October 1981): 247-257. Print.

Godwin, William. Fables Ancient and Modern. Adapted for the Use of Children from Three to Eight Years of Age. London: [n.p.], 1807. Print.

Godwin, William. The Looking-Glass: A True History of the Early Years of an Artist; Calculated to waken the Emulation of of both Sexes, in the Pursuit of Every Laudable Attainment, Particularly in the Cultivation of the Fine Arts. London: [n.p.], 1805. Print.

Godwin, William. Outlines of English Grammar. Partly Abridged from Mr. Hazlitt's New and Improved Grammar of the English language. London: [n.p.], 1810. Print.

Godwin, William. The Pantheon or Ancient History of the Gods of Greece and Rome. Whitefish, Montana: Kessinger Publishing, 2004. Rpt. Godwin, William. The Pantheon: or Ancient History of the Gods of Greece and Rome. For the Use of Schools, and Young Persons of Both Sexes. London: [n.p.], 1810. Print.

Godwin, William. "Preface to Bible Stories" Political and Philosophical Writings of William Godwin. Ed. Pamela Clemit. Vol. 5. London: Pickering & Chatto, 1993. Print.

Godwin, William. The Enquirer. Reflections on Education, Manners, and Literature. In a Series of Essays. Political and Philosophical Writings of William Godwin. Ed. Pamela Clemit. Vol. 5. London: Pickering & Chatto, 1993. Print.

Graham, Kenneth W., ed. William Godwin Reviewed: A Reception History 1783-1834. New York: AMS Press, 2001. Print.

Jackson, Mary V. Engines of Instruction, Mischief, and Magic: Children's Literature in England from Its Beginnings to 1839. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1989. Print.

Kinnell, Margaret. "Childhood and Children's Literature: The Case of M.J. Godwin and Co., 1805-1825" Publishing History (1988): 77-99. Print.

Kinnell, Margaret. "Sceptreless, Free, Uncircumscribed? Radicalism, Dissent and Early Children's Books" British Journal of Educational Studies 36 (February 1988): 49-71. Print.

Mac-Carthy, Denis Florence. Shelley's Early Life, from Original Sources. With Curious Incidents, Letters, and Writings, Now First Published or Collected. London: John Camden Hotten, 1872. Rpt. Mac-Carthy, Denis Florence. Shelley's Early Life, from Original Sources. With Curious Incidents, Letters, and Writings, Now First Published or Collected. [n.p.]: Folcroft Library Editions, 1979. Print.

Marshall, Peter H. William Godwin. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984. Print.

McCann, Andrew. Cultural Politics in the 1790s: Literature, Radicalism, and the Public Sphere. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999. Print.

Myers, Mitzi. "Impeccable Governesses, Rational Dames, and Moral Mothers: Mary Wollstonecraft and the Female Tradition in Georgian Children's Books" Children's Literature 14 (1986): 31-59. Print.

Myers, Mitzi. "Reading Children and Homeopathic Romanticism: Paradigm Lost, Revisionary Gleam, or ‘Plus ça Change, Plus C'est La Même Chose?" Literature and the Child: Romantic Continuations, Postmodern Contestations. Ed. James Holt McGavran Jr. Iowa City: U of Iowa P, 1999. Print.

Myers, Mitzi. "Romancing the Moral Tale: Maria Edgeworth and the Problematics of Pedagogy" Romanticism and Children's Literature in Nineteenth-Century England. Ed. James Holt McGavran Jr. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1991. Print.

Osler, Alan. "Keats and Baldwin's Pantheon" The Modern Language Review 62 (April 1967): 221-225. Print.

Marrs, Jr., Edwin W., ed. The Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1976. Print.

Montanaro, Ann R. "William Godwin and Mary Jane Clairmont" Dictionary of Literary Biography: British Children's Writers. Vol. 163. Detroit: Gale Research, 1996. Print.

Pollin, Burton Ralph. Education and Enlightenment in the Works of William Godwin. New York: Las Americas Publishing Company, 1962. Print.

Richardson, Alan. "Romanticism and the End of Childhood" Literature and the Child: Romantic Continuations, Postmodern Contestations. Ed. James Holt McGavran Jr.. Iowa City: U of Iowa P, 1999. Print.

Richardson, Alan. Literature, Education, and Romanticism: Reading as Social Practice, 1780-1832. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994. Print.

Richardson, Alan. "Wordsworth, Fairy Tales, and the Politics of Children's Reading" Romanticism Children's Literature in Nineteenth-Century England. Ed. James Holt McGavran Jr. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1991. Print.

Roscoe, S. John Newbery and his Successors, 1740-1814: A Bibliography. Hertfordshire, Great Britain: Five Owls Press, 1973. Print.

Roy, Malini. "Celebrating ‘Wild Tales:' Lamb and Godwin's Groundwork for Children's Literature" The Charles Lamb Bulletin (July 2009): 122-130. Print.

Ruwe, Donelle. "Guarding the British Bible from Rousseau: Sarah Trimmer, William Godwin, and the Pedagogical Periodical" Children's Literature 29 (2001): 1-17. Print.

Ruwe, Donelle, ed. Culturing the Child 1690-1914: Essays in Memory of Mitzi Myers. Lanham: The Children's Literature Association, 2005. Print.

Scrivener, Michael. "M.J. Godwin and Company" Dictionary of Literary Biography: The British Literary Book Trade. Ed. James K. Bracken and Joel Silver. Vol. 154. Detroit: Gale Research, 1995. Print.

St Clair, William. "William Godwin as Children's Bookseller" Children and Their Books: A Celebration of the Work of Iona and Peter Opie. Ed. Gilliam Avery and Julia Briggs. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989. Print.

St Clair, William. The Godwins and The Shelleys: A Biography of a Family. New York: W.W. Norton, 1989. Print.

St Clair, William. The Reading Nation in the Romantic Period. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004. Print.

Summerfield, Geoffrey. Fantasy and Reason: Children's Literature in the Eighteenth Century. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1985. Print.

Tucker, Nicholas. "Fairy Tales and Their Early Opponents: In Defense of Mrs Trimmer" Opening the Nursery Door: Reading, Writing and Childhood 1600-1900. Ed. Mary Hilton, Morag Styles, and Victor Watson. New York: Routledge, 1997. Print.

Watson, Jeanie. "'The Raven: A Christmas Poem': Coleridge and the Fairy Tale Controversy" Romanticism and Children's Literature in Nineteenth-Century England. Ed. James Holt McGavran Jr.. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1991. Print.


[1] See "A Few Particulars Concerning Godwin's Juvenile Library Which Ought To Be Made Generally Known" in Denis Florence Mac-Carthy, Shelley's Early Life (1872; rept., Folcroft Library Editions, 1979), 161-162. All references have been taken from Mac-Carthy. We would like to thank Pamela Clemit, who quoted extracts from this spy report in "Philosophical Anarchism in the Schoolroom: William Godwin's Juvenile Library, 1805-25" Biblion 9 (Fall 2000 and Spring 2001): 44-70; she generously directed us to Mac-Carthy. The original report is document TS11/951/3494 in the Public Record Office or "Domestic, Geo. III., 1813. January to March. No. 217." BACK

[2] For example, see: Pamela Clemit, "Philosophical Anarchism in the Schoolroom" and "William Godwin's Juvenile Library" Charles Lamb Bulletin 147 (July 2009): 90-99; Mitzi Myers, "Romancing the Moral Tale: Maria Edgeworth and the Problematics of Pedagogy" in Romanticism and Children's Literature in Nineteenth-Century England, ed. James Holt McGavran, Jr. (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1991), 96-128 and "Impeccable Governesses, Rational Dames, and Moral Mothers: Mary Wollstonecraft and the Female Tradition in Georgian Children's Books" Children's Literature 14 (1986): 31-59; Alan Richardson, "Wordsworth, Fairy Tales, and the Politics of Children's Reading" in Romanticism and Children's Literature in Nineteenth-Century England, 34-55 and Literature, Education, and Romanticism: Reading as Social Practice, 1780-1832 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994); and Donelle Ruwe, "Guarding the British Bible from Rousseau: Sarah Trimmer, William Godwin, and the Pedagogical Periodical" Children's Literature 29 (2001): 1-17. Discussions about the socio-political stakes of children's literature can also be found in Gary Kelly, The English Jacobin Novel: 1780-1805 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976) and "The Limits of Genre and the Institution of Literature, Romanticism Between Fact and Fiction," in Romantic Revolutions: Criticism and Theory, ed. Kenneth R. Johnston, Gilbert Chaitin, Karen Hanson, and Herbert Marks (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990), 158-175. BACK

[3] Although the Home Office declined to follow up on the report, the fact that a report would have been issued at all bespeaks the government's anxieties and high level of watchfulness. For further information on the Home Office's decision see Mac-Carthy 160-161. BACK

[4] See William St Clair, The Godwins and the Shelleys: The Biography of a Family (New York: W.W. Norton, 1989), 279. BACK

[5] See William Godwin, "Preface to Bible Stories," in The Political and Philosophical Writings of William Godwin, vol. 5, ed Pamela Clemit. (London: Pickering & Chatto, 1993), 313. All references are to this edition. BACK

[6] In "Philosophical Anarchism" Clemit cites the Whig aristocrat Lord Holland's amused observation: "The good little books in which our masters and misses were taught the rudiments of profane and sacred history, under the name of Baldwin; were really the composition of Godwin, branded as an atheist by those who unwittingly purchased, recommended, and taught his elementary lessons" (54-55). BACK

[7] Review of Life of Lady Jane Grey, by Theophilus Marcliffe, Critical Review 8 (1806) in William Godwin Reviewed: A Reception History 1783-1834, ed. Kenneth W. Graham (New York: AMS Press, 2001), 288. Review of The History of England, for the Use of Schools and Young Persons, by Edward Baldwin, Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine 25 (1807) in William Godwin Reviewed, 286. BACK

[8] For information on Godwin's Juvenile Library see: Janet Bottoms, "'Awakening the Mind:' the Educational Philosophy of William Godwin" History of Education 33, no. 3 (May 2004): 267-282; Pamela Clemit, "Philosophical Anarchism in the Schoolroom: William Godwin's Juvenile Library, 1805-25" and "William Godwin's Juvenile Library;" Margaret Fearn, "William Godwin and the ‘Wilds of Literature'" British Journal of Educational Studies 29, no. 3 (Oct. 1981): 247-257; Margaret Kinnell, "Childhood and Children's Literature: the Case of M.J. Godwin, 1805-1825" Publishing History 24 (1988): 77-99 and "Sceptreless, Free, Uncircumscribed? Radicalism, Dissent and Early Children's Books" British Journal of Educational Studies 36, no. 1 (Feb. 1988): 49-71; and William St Clair, The Godwins and the Shelleys. A description of the publishing venture also can be found in British Children's Writers, 1800-1880, Vol. 163, Dictionary of Literary Biography (Detroit: Gale Research, 1996), 110-118 and in the British Literary Book Trade, 1700-1820, Vol. 154, Dictionary of Literary Biography, ed. James K. Bracken and Joel Silver (Detroit: Gale Research, 1995): 143-149. BACK

[9] According to MLA records gathered on 18 September 2012, 200 scholarly works on Godwin and/or his oeuvre were published between 1992 and 2012. For the purposes of clarity and efficiency, we have decided to remove dissertations and scholarly literature written in foreign languages. This decision left us with 179 works, which we categorized based on the "Primary Subject Work" and "Subject Terms" included in the MLA's bibliographic record. BACK

[10] In "William Godwin's Juvenile Library" Clemit cites a 2 January 1828 note (held in the Abinger deposit) in which Godwin requests that his literary executor include Baldwin's Fables, Pantheon, the histories of England, Rome, and Greece, and the preface to Bible Stories in future editions of his miscellaneous works (98). BACK

[11] Historians who have downplayed (and even discounted) the importance of the 1790s in the history of children's literature include F.J. Harvey Darton, Children's Books in England: Five Centuries of Social Life, 3rd ed., rev. Brian Alderson (1982; rpt. London: The British Library, 1999) and Geoffrey Summerfield, Fantasy and Reason: Children's Literature in the Eighteenth Century (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1984). BACK

[12] See Norma Clarke, "'The Cursed Barbauld Crew:' Women Writers and Writing for Children in the Late Eighteenth Century," in Opening the Nursery Door: Reading, Writing and Childhood 1600-1900, ed. Mary Hilton, Morag Styles, and Victor Watson (New York: Routledge, 1997), 91-103; Margaret Kinnell, "Sceptreless, Free, Uncircumscribed?;" Alan Richardson, "Romanticism and the End of Childhood," in Literature and the Child: Romantic Continuations, Postmodern Contestations, ed. James Holt McGavran (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1999), 23-43, Literature, Education, and Romanticism: Reading as Social Practice, and "Wordsworth, Fairy Tales, and the Politics of Children's Reading;" Donelle Ruwe, ed., Culturing the Child, 1690-1914: Essays in Memory of Mitzi Myers (Lanham: Scarecrow and Children's Literature Association, 2005) and "Guarding the British Bible from Rousseau;" Nicholas Tucker, "Fairy Tales and Their Early Opponents: in Defense of Mrs. Trimmer," in Opening the Nursery Door, 104-116; and Mitzi Myers, "Impeccable Governesses, Rational Dames, and Moral Mothers," and "Romancing the Moral Tale: Maria Edgeworth and the Problematics of Pedagogy," in Romanticism and Children's Literature in Nineteenth-Century England, 96-128. BACK

[13] William Godwin, The Enquirer. Reflections on Education, Manners, and Literature. In a Series of Essays. 2nd ed. (1797). Political and Philosophical Writings of William Godwin, vol. 5, ed. Mark Philp (London: William Pickering 1993), 144. All references are to this edition. BACK

[14] For example, an abridged version of Lamb's Tales from Shakespear was reprinted as late as 2003. BACK

[15] See St. Clair, "William Godwin as Children's Bookseller," in Children and Their Books: A Celebration of the Work of Iona and Peter Opie, ed. Gillian Avery and Julia Briggs (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), 177. Clemit's data in "William Godwin's Juvenile Library" confirms the wide appeal of Godwin's books. Godwin's unpublished records, she explains, indicate shipments to Scotland and India, which suggests a much wider sales network than has previously been thought (93). Moreover, she notes, new editions of Godwin's works continued to appear even after Godwin sold off his stock to Baldwin, Craddock, and Joy in 1825 (98). Of note among these is the Pantheon, which Clemit explains went through eight editions by 1836 and became "a standard text in schools" (95). BACK

[16] For a more complete list of Godwin's radical contemporaries see St Clair's The Godwins and the Shelleys. BACK

[17] For further information on the impact of pamphlet publishing see Richardson, "Wordsworth, Fairy Tales, and the Politics of Children's Reading." BACK

[18] These two watershed moments have traditionally been seen in opposition to one another, with the dour, didactic fiction of the 1780s and 1790s drowning out the more playful, imaginative fiction from earlier in the century. However, in "Wordsworth, Fairy Tales, and the Politics of Children's Reading," Richardson argues that scholars need to be more aware of the way in which this post-romantic scholarly narrative influences our reading of children's literary history, in particular the way in which we see late-century didactic children's fiction. BACK

[19] Mary Jackson, Engines of Instruction, Mischief, and Magic: Children's Literature in England from its Beginnings to 1839 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989), 98. BACK

[20] Lamb to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 23 October 1802, in The Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb, ed. Edwin W. Marrs, Jr. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1976), 80-84; emphases in original. BACK

[21] See Myers, "Reading Children and Homeopathic Romanticism: Paradigm, Revisionary Gleam, or Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose?" in Literature and the Child: Romantic Continuations, Postmodern Contestations, ed. James Holt McGavran, Jr. (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1999): 44-84 and "Romancing the Moral Tale: Maria Edgeworth and the Problematics of Pedagogy." Also see Richardson, "Wordsworth, Fairy Tales, and the Politics of Children's Reading." BACK

[22] The Guardian's stated purpose was to countermand a "conspiracy against Christianity and all social order, which is at this time carrying on in the world by various means; one of which is endeavoring to infect the minds of the rising generation through the medium of Books of Education and Children's book" (Kinnell 50). BACK

[23] In "Philosophical Anarchism" Clemit explains that the debates in the 1790s about the causes of political radicalism evolved in the early 1800s into a debate about "education as the means by which social change was to be achieved" (44). BACK

[24] St Clair compares the pervasive fear that imaginative books for children would "introduce them to the notion of choice" to the similar impulse to keep novels out of the hands of impressionable women "on the grounds that such literature made dangerous emotions seem legitimate" ("William Godwin as Children's Bookseller" 168), a sentiment Wollstonecraft might have approved in theory if not in practice. BACK

[25] Sarah Trimmer, Review of Bible Stories, by William Scolfield, Guardian of Education 1 (1802), in William Godwin Reviewed: A Reception History 1783-1834, ed. Kenneth Graham (New York: AMS Press, 2001): 210, emphases in original. All references are to this edition. BACK

[26] See Clemit, "William Godwin's Juvenile Library," 96-97. BACK

[27] William Godwin, Fleetwood: or, The New Man of Feeling, (1805), ed. Gary Handwerk and A.A. Markley (Petersborough Ontario: Broadview Literary Texts, 2001), 149. All references are to this edition. BACK

[28] Famously, Shelley funded the shop's losses for many of its last years, and it was a visit to Skinner Street to discuss business that precipitated Shelley's elopement with Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (St Clair "William Godwin as Children's Bookseller" 176). BACK

[29] See Fenwick, Lessons for Children (1809) and Rays from the Rainbow (1811). BACK

[30] The transatlantic reception of Godwin's juvenile literature has received very scant attention, with mentions made in St Clair and Clemit. We know that copies existed in America both as domestic reprints (most likely pirated, some almost immediately following the English release) and as import copies. There is, for example, an 1815 English edition of The History of England in the Pforzheimer collection with the inscription of "James Hurnard/Wilmington Delaware/2 Month 20th 1824," indicating that at least some English editions crossed the Atlantic. Known American editions are as follows:

Bible Stories (released in England in 1802): Philadelphia: Thomas and Wm. Bradford, 1803. Philadelphia: Jacob Johnson, 1803. Albany: Charles R. and George Webster, 1803. New York: Isaac Collins and Son, 1804. Wilmington: Robert Porter for Matthew R. Lockerman, 1812.
Fables (released in England in 1803): New Haven: Sidney's press for Increase Cooke and Co., 1807. Philadelphia: Johnson & Warner, William Brown, 1811. Philadelphia and Richmond: Benjamin Warner, 1818. New Haven: Babcock and co., 1824
A New Guide to the English Tongue (released in England in 1813): Montreal: Workman & Bowman for Ariel Bowman, 1833.

[31] Godwin to Lamb, 10 March 1808. In his response, Lamb reacts poorly to Godwin's editorial censorship: "As an author I say to you, an Author, Touch not my Work. As a bookselle[r] I say, Take the work such as it is, or refuse it. You are as free to refuse it as when we first talk'd of it. As to a friend I say, don't plague yourself and me with nonsensical objections. I assure you I will not alter one more word." Lamb also flatly refused to revise Ulysses's preface, which Godwin had asked him to expand with a biographical sketch of Homer so that it more closely resembled Lamb's treatment of Shakespeare in his preface to the Tales. See The Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb, ed. Edwin W. Marrs, Jr. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1976), 278-279. BACK

[32] Godwin's A New Guide to the English Tongue, the essay he attaches to William Frederick Mylius's School Dictionary (1809), shows a similar concern for gender equality. It notes that the use of Mylius' text has become "the established practice in all schools, whether for males or females, where the English language forms a principal object of attention" (ix). Where possible we refer to first editions, with the exception of the preface to Bible Stories, which has been included in the Pickering and Chatto edition of Godwin's collected works and therefore should be considered the current scholarly resource text. In addition, all references to Mylius's Dictionary are from the fifth edition of 1813, the only edition currently held by the Pforzheimer Collection. BACK

[33] The full title of Godwin's version is Outlines of English Grammar. Partly Abridged from Mr. Hazlitt's New and improved grammar of the English language. Godwin's title misstates the full title of Hazlitt's original work, which is A new and improved grammar of the English tongne [sic]: for the use of schools: in which the genius of our speech is especially attended to, and the discoveries of Mr. Horne Tooke and other modern writers on the formation of language are for the first time incorporated (1810). All references are to this edition. BACK

[34] As he writes: "a brief view is here exhibited of the theory of Mr. Horne Tooke in his celebrated work, entitled, The Diversions of Purley. It seems to be universally acknowledged, that the main principles of that work are true, and that they change, in some fundamental respects, the doctrines formerly received on the subject of language" (iii). BACK

[35] St Clair notes that in the Opie Collection of Children's Literature at Oxford University is a copy of Fables inscribed to Augustus Frederick, the grandson of King George III. See "William Godwin as Children's Bookseller," 171. BACK

[36] Fables Ancient and Modern. Adapted for the Use of Children from Three to Eight Years of Age, 2nd ed. (London: 1807), iv. All references are to this edition. BACK

[37] Trimmer, Review of Fables Ancient and Modern, by Edward Baldwin, in William Godwin Reviewed, 273-281. BACK

[38] As noted above, The Pantheon is the only Juvenile Library text still available commercially, as a reprint edition from Kessinger Publishing. BACK

[39] See St. Clair, The Godwins and the Shelleys, 426-7. Specific textual support for this claim is also delineated in Alan Osler's "Keats and Baldwin's 'Pantheon,'" The Modern Language Review 62, no. 2 (Apr. 1967): 221-225. BACK

[40] This flattery appears to have worked, as later editions of the Pantheon proudly state above the title that the text is "Adopted in the Charter-House School." BACK

[41] Tooke consistently portrays the pagan gods and goddesses as disgusting, immoral, and licentious: Bacchus is a "filthy, shameless, and immodest God" (57) and "the captain and emperor of drunkards" (58); Pan is a "ridiculous deity, fit only to terrify boys" (198); Venus is "the patroness of strumpets, the vile promoter of impudence and lust, infamous for so many whoredomes, rapes, and incests […] an impudent strumpet, and the mistress and president of obscenity" (108). See Tooke, Pantheon, 38th ed. 1798. BACK

[42] The Looking-Glass: A True History of the Early Years of an Artist (1805) written by Godwin and published under the name Theophilius Marcliffe, also proudly proclaims its suitability for "young persons of both Sexes." BACK

[43] Edward Baldwin, The Pantheon: or Ancient History of the Gods of Greece and Rome. For the Use of Schools, and Young Persons of Both Sexes. 3rd ed. (London: M.J. Godwin, 1810), viii. All references are to this edition. BACK

[44] Baldwin, The History of England. For the Use of Schools and Young Persons (1806), 110. All references are to this edition. BACK

[45] One of Godwin's most attentive readers, his daughter Mary, would later return to the character of Perkin Warbeck in her novel The Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck (1830), in which the pretender is portrayed as the legitimate heir to the throne. Godwin's chapter devoted to Cromwell is on pages 138 through 141 of the 1806 edition. BACK

[46] Emphasis in original. BACK

[47] St Clair also discusses Godwin's business finances. See The Godwins and the Shelleys, 287-314. BACK

Published @ RC

July 2014