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The Godwins and the Shelleys: A Biography of a Family

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Much more than the biography of a family. It is in large measure the biography of an era . . . The reader comes away with the feeling that he has witnessed a panorama of intellectual history which transcends the records of individual failures and weaknesses.


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Much more than the biography of a family. It is in large measure the biography of an era . . . The reader comes away with the feeling that he has witnessed a panorama of intellectual history which transcends the records of individual failures and weaknesses.

30 review for The Godwins and the Shelleys: A Biography of a Family

  1. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    Want to know the context in which the seeds of the great Romantic rebellion took root? This is the book. Masterful synthesis of all the high ideals of a volatile age, centered on William Godwin.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Madeleine McLaughlin

    A insightful and welcome read about the Godwins and and Shelleys told through the bio of William Godwin. Follows his childhood influences and growth, peak and fall as a successful writer. Of course, Mary Woollstencraft and Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley are there, too. Lots of new info for anyone who knows much about them, all new for people who know nothing. Great way to learn about them.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    This is a fantastic look at the lives of the Godwins and the Shelleys - or, more specifically, William Godwin and Percy Bysshe Shelley. I personally would have preferred more on Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley, but there are other books on those subjects. This is thorough, but extremely engaging and readable.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Madly Jane

    Hmmm. This is by all accounts, a study of William Godwin. I enjoyed it a great deal, not only for what it said, but what it did not say, the subtext that can often be found in a biography by looking at the total group of people. For example, what does it say of Mary Shelley, his daughter, or his thoughts on marriage and why he married, and what hope did he experience on meeting Percy Shelley and how were those hopes soon scattered by his own daughter? These are questions that this biography rais Hmmm. This is by all accounts, a study of William Godwin. I enjoyed it a great deal, not only for what it said, but what it did not say, the subtext that can often be found in a biography by looking at the total group of people. For example, what does it say of Mary Shelley, his daughter, or his thoughts on marriage and why he married, and what hope did he experience on meeting Percy Shelley and how were those hopes soon scattered by his own daughter? These are questions that this biography raises. I found his relationship with Thomas Holcroft indicative of all his relationships and would like to read more on Holcroft. I often found this study rather sad. A man can only take so much tragedy and Godwin experienced his fair share if not more. He weathered them all which says a lot about his personality, though not all of that would be kind. Perhaps it is lucky that Godwin met Mrs. Clairmont when he did, the women who wore those green tinted glasses. I'd like to have met her!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am sure to read this many more times for notes.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    Frankly, I think the title is a misnomer; a more accurate title would be William Godwin and His Family. Despite the pictures of Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, and Percy Bysshe Shelley on the cover, the book is really about Godwin and sees the others mainly in relation to him; even Wollstonecraft gets only one chapter covering her entire life up to her relationship with Godwin. With that said, this is a very good biography of Godwin, with much insight into his character, his relations Frankly, I think the title is a misnomer; a more accurate title would be William Godwin and His Family. Despite the pictures of Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, and Percy Bysshe Shelley on the cover, the book is really about Godwin and sees the others mainly in relation to him; even Wollstonecraft gets only one chapter covering her entire life up to her relationship with Godwin. With that said, this is a very good biography of Godwin, with much insight into his character, his relationships with his family and friends, and his times.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Polly

    I was slightly disappointed in this biography in so far as I agree with other reviewers that this is not truly ‘the biography of a family’ that the title suggests. I would have loved more focus on both Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley as this does not truly cover to a great extent Mary Shelley’s life after both her father’s and husband’s deaths. That being said, as a biography of William Godwin with a heavy focus on his relationship to Percy Shelley, this is an interesting and through account I was slightly disappointed in this biography in so far as I agree with other reviewers that this is not truly ‘the biography of a family’ that the title suggests. I would have loved more focus on both Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley as this does not truly cover to a great extent Mary Shelley’s life after both her father’s and husband’s deaths. That being said, as a biography of William Godwin with a heavy focus on his relationship to Percy Shelley, this is an interesting and through account of a fascinating man in a fascinating period. Though some paragraphs I personally felt were a bit heavy on explaining slightly duller aspects (at least in my opinion!) such as details about Godwin’s finances, it is still a compelling read. The 3* rating is partly due to my own disappointment that there was not as detailed accounts of the two Marys’ lives as one might expect from the title, however this is a thorough and well written biography of William Godwin.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Annez

    A thorough and meticulously researched history of William Godwin, his daughter Mary Shelley, and fractious relations with son in law Percy Bysshe Shelley. More than the casual "Frankenstein" fan is ever likely to want to know, this volume offers a detailed look at the mores, politics, and philosophies of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Iain

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rob

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jan-Jaap van Peperstraten

  12. 5 out of 5

    Beth

  13. 4 out of 5

    Gultekin

  14. 4 out of 5

    Siobhan

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mara

  16. 4 out of 5

    Maranda

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  18. 5 out of 5

    Damien Patton

  19. 5 out of 5

    Emslie

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sofia

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stuart Murdoch

  22. 4 out of 5

    Molly

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lil

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nikki Harbison

  26. 5 out of 5

    Maria

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jan Testarmata

  28. 4 out of 5

    Göran Forsell

  29. 5 out of 5

    Scott Hallam

  30. 4 out of 5

    jayz

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