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William Godwin (1756-1836), Philosopher and novelist

Sitter in 13 portraits
Philosopher and novelist, Godwin was arguably the most famous English writer of the revolutionary period and the leading radical spokesman. In the Enquiry concerning Political Justice (1793) he detailed his optimistic belief that human reason was a means to dispense with authoritarian laws and institutions. Despite having argued against the need for marriage, he married the feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft in 1797 when she was pregnant with their daughter, the future Mary Shelley. Godwin had a powerful influence on the Romantic poets, especially Wordsworth and Shelley.