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 (gŏd′wĭn), William 1756-1836.
British writer and political theorist who believed in the perfectibility of human nature and maintained that people could live harmoniously without laws and institutions. His most important work is Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793).
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


1. (Biography) died 1053, Earl of Wessex. He was chief adviser to Canute and Edward the Confessor. His son succeeded Edward to the throne as Harold II
2. (Biography) Mary. See (Mary) Wollstonecraft
3. (Biography) William. 1756–1836, British political philosopher and novelist. In An Enquiry concerning Political Justice (1793), he rejected government and social institutions, including marriage. His views greatly influenced English romantic writers
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈgɒd wɪn)

1. Also, God•wi•ne (ˈgɒd wɪ nə) Earl of the West Saxons, died 1053, English statesman.
2. Mary Wollstonecraft, 1759–97, English women's rights activist and writer (mother of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley).
3. her husband, William, 1756–1836, English political philosopher and writer.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
William Godwin, in Caleb Williams, exposes the oppressive social system by showing that, under the thumb of his ex-master Falkland, Caleb cannot effectively pursue self-interest, contribute to the common good, or even exercise his individual rights.
Her parents were two iconic philosophers: the feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft was her mother, while her father was the first proponent of anarchy, William Godwin.
'He that loves reading has everything within his reach.' William Godwin
Her pioneering feminist mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, died giving birth to her, and her father was the famous writer-philosopher William Godwin. It's said her tragic beginning led to youthful adventures in Europe, now the stuff of legend.
Mary Shelley was born in 1797, the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, both influential writers in feminism and politics, respectively.
Thanks to critics from Charles Dickens to Michel Foucault, pre-20th century utilitarian philosophers have gained a reputation as amoral libertines or cold rationalists, impervious to what people today might call "social justice." But William Godwin, Jeremy Bentham, and other classical utilitarians were dedicated humanists, deeply concerned with social reform, and often radically progressive on women's rights, sexual relations, and other cultural issues.
After Mary Wollstonecraft's second attempt at suicide in 1795, the pioneering feminist's new suitor, William Godwin, advised her that "a disappointed woman should try to construct happiness out of a set of materials within her reach." In MOYRA DAVEY: LES GODDESSES/HEMLOCK FOREST (Dancing Foxes Press, $30), the artist applies a similar strategy to address the acute desperations of motherhood and mortality.
Mary Robinson and the Genesis of Romanticism renews our portrait of a major literary provocateur of the 1790s whose writing helps to create that of her interlocutors, including Samuel Coleridge, Robert Southey, Charlotte Smith, William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, and William Wordsworth.
William Godwin writes exceptionally clear prose, but few eighteenth-century novels have proved so difficult to read as his masterpiece Things as They Are; Or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams.