William Godwin, author of Things as They Are, or The Adventures of Caleb Williams; Mandeville, and St. Leon, was the husband of Mary Wollstonecraft. Their marriage provided much of the source material for Amelia Anderson's Adeline Mowbray.

The poet Coleridge visited the Godwin family and read them his poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which had a profound effect on his young daughter, Mary Godwin, the author of Frankenstein.

Percy Bysshe Shelley was another admirer of Godwin, whose St. Leon inspired his St. Irvyne. On a visit to Godwin, Shelley met 17-year-old Mary and shortly eloped with her. Mary's stepsister, Claire Clairemont, went with them. Claire had an affair with Lord Byron, which produced their daughter Allegra. Godwin seems to have been a less than successful father. Of his four children and stepchildren, one committed suicide and the other three ran away from home.

Godwin's work The Lives of the Necromancers, provided Mary Shelley with the background reading for her character Victor Frankenstein, while his character Bethlem Gabor in St. Leon, a good man turned misanthropic by loss, has many echoes in her monster.

Another admirer of Godwin was Charles Brockden Brown whose Arthur Mervyn was inspired by Caleb Williams. In turn, Godwin's Mandeville was influenced by Brown's Wieland.

Godwin was also a friend of Elizabeth Inchbald and edited her best known work, A Simple Story. The biographical details in Inchbald's novel were reworked in a portion of Fleetwood which contains many domestic details drawn from the lives of Godwin's literary friends, particularly those of Charlotte Smith, Mary Robinson (Mrs. Gifford), and Mary Wollstonecraft. Thomas Holcroft (whose son committed suicide) believed himself to be the original of Mr. Scarborough, whose son is driven to an early death, but Godwin denied this. In turn, the character of Mr. Francis in Mary Hays' novel The Memoirs of Emma Courtenay is said to be based on William Godwin, and may even quote from his letters.

Godwin proposed to Harriet Lee, younger sister of Sophia Lee, author of The Recess, but was turned down.

Zanoni, by Godwin's friend, Bulwer-Lytton is another work to show the influence of St. Leon, as is Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer.

Godwin's friend Joseph Priestley was a victim of the Birmingham riots which Godwin used as a model for the mob violence in St. Leon. He was also a member of the Lunar Society with Darwin and Edgeworth.

 

Gothic Labyrinth
Gothic Labyrinth