Sociability in the Writings of William Godwin, with Special Reference to Thomas Holcroft
William Godwin was a religious dissenter, political journalist, novelist, and author of the philosophical treatise Political Justice. The principal aim of my thesis is to provide a distinctive investigation of Godwin’s theory of sociability, and to consider its development and practical and literary dissemination. Investigating key influences, I will show his intimate friend, the actor, novelist, and playwright Thomas Holcroft, as having a crucial role in shaping Godwin’s whole model of sociability and intellectual exchange. Examining a selection of Godwin’s and Holcroft’s political writings, letters, diaries, early narratives, and novels reveals how each writer was acutely aware of differing types of genre and audience, and establishes how, at a time of political repression, they practised a politicised model of friendship at the very moment government sought to undermine it. Godwin used his model to develop an idea of essential equality: he sought to engage all of mankind in politically inflected friendship in order to achieve moral equality. Working as a virtual and practical partnership, Godwin and Holcroft shared a belief in the written word as a powerful vehicle of influence and modelled friendship in their writings so as to advance social and political reform.
- PhD