Early life and education

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Early life and education Empty Early life and education

Post by kosovohp on Sun Nov 21, 2010 12:12 am

Godwin was born in Wisbech in Cambridgeshire to John and Anne Godwin. Godwin's family on both sides were middle-class. It was probably only as a joke that Godwin, a stern political reformer and philosophical radical, attempted to trace his pedigree to a time before the Norman Conquest to the great Earl, Godwin. Godwin's parents adhered to a strict form of Calvinism. His father, a Nonconformist minister in Guestwick in Norfolk, died young, and never inspired love or much regret in his son; but in spite of wide differences of opinion, tender affection always subsisted between William Godwin and his mother, until her death at an advanced age.
William Godwin was educated for his father's profession at Hoxton Academy, where he studied under Andrew Kippis the biographer and Dr Abraham Rees of the Cyclopaedia. At the age of 11, he became the sole pupil of Samuel Newton, who was a disciple of Robert Sandeman. Godwin later characterized Newton as, "... a celebrated north country apostle, who, after Calvin damned ninety-nine in a hundred of mankind, has contrived a scheme for damning ninety-nine in a hundred of the followers of Calvin.[3] "
He then acted as a minister at Ware, Stowmarket and Beaconsfield. At Stowmarket the teachings of the French philosophers were brought before him by a friend, Joseph Fawcett, who held strong republican opinions. Godwin came to London in 1782, still nominally as a minister, to regenerate society with his pen a real enthusiast, who shrank theoretically from no conclusions from the premises which he laid down. He adopted the principles of the Encyclopaedists, and his own aim was the complete overthrow of all existing institutions, political, social and religious. He believed, however, that calm discussion was the only thing needful to carry every change, and from the beginning to the end of his career he deprecated every approach to violence. He was a philosophic radical in the strictest sense of the term.


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