William Godwin (1756-1836), the seventh of thirteen children, was raised by a dissenting minister, which accounts for his studies and work as a dissenting minister early in life. By 1782, Godwin had exposed himself to the optimism of Enlightenment philosophy through books and discussion, and so became more enthusiastic about the overthrow of all political, religious and social institutions. He turned to writing as a profession, and in the 1790s published his first of two novels: "Caleb Williams". The novel centers on two main characters, Caleb Williams, the naive but courageous protagonist, and his employer, Ferdinando Falkland, a wealthy and respected landowner who is prone to distemper. Their story portrays what Godwin saw as a flawed society, where the rich elite held power over the poor and helpless. Historians have labeled the novel tragic, gothic romance, terror, sensation, or mystery, but regardless of its classification, this novel will invite readers to take a hard look at...

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