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‘Godwin versus Godwin’: Negotiating the War of Ideas in Charles Lloyd’s Isabel, A Tale

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Matthew Grenby



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Charles Lloyd remains on the fringe of Romanticism, remembered for his relationships with Coleridge, Southey, Lamb, De Quincey and Hays, and known chiefly for his novel Edmund Oliver (1798). This essay investigates the complex history and meanings of Lloyd’s other, entirely neglected novel, Isabel, A Tale. Using unpublished correspondence the essay establishes that, although published in 1820, Isabel was printed in 1810, and written in 1798-99. Two manuscripts of the novel have been located. These are for the first time analysed to shed light on Lloyd’s intentions. Intriguingly, the manuscripts give the novel the sub-title ‘Godwin versus Godwin’, as well as positioning it as a response to Mary Wollstonecraft. These clues, with an unpublished preface, support a reading of Isabel as an attempt to use Wollstonecraft’s work, and her life as written by Godwin, to develop a modus vivendi allowing radical social critique to co-exist with a defence of chastity and marriage.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Grenby M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Romanticism

Year: 2023

Volume: 29

Issue: 3

Pages: 239-252

Online publication date: 01/10/2023

Acceptance date: 08/09/2022

Date deposited: 14/09/2022

ISSN (print): 1354-991X

ISSN (electronic): 1750-0192

Publisher: Edinburgh University Press


DOI: 10.3366/rom.2023.0610

ePrints DOI: 10.57711/zexe-6v31


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