When I was reading Godwin and the others, I kept a 4x6 notecard on each title I read, and on that card I recorded not just the bibliographical information but also where I acquired the title. As I turn over those Godwin cards now, I see the wide array of sources my passion required.
I used OhioLink, a consortium of Ohio’s academic libraries interlibrary loan, to borrow Four Early Pamphlets, his play Antonio, his novels Cloudesley: A Tale and Deloraine and Fleetwood; or, The New Man of Feeling Fables: Ancient and Modern (a two-volume children’s book), “The Genius of Christianity Unveiled,” “Letter of Advice to a Young American on the Course of Studies It Might Be Most Advantageous for Him to Pursue” (on microform—took a trip to KSU Library to print the document), Of Population, The Pantheon: or Ancient History of the Gods of Greece and Rome (for children), Thoughts on Man, His Nature, Productions, and Discoveries.
At Cleveland Public Library, I found his Essay on Sepulchres and Faulkener: A Tragedy (microform); History of Greece and History of Rome (for children); Imogen: A Pastoral Romance; Life of Geoffrey Chaucer; Life of Lady Jane Grey, and of Lord Guildford, Her Husband (microform); Lives of Edward and John Phillips, Nephews and Pupils of Milton; Lives of the Necromancers.
In June 2001, Joyce and I drove to Athens, Ohio, to visit the special collections division of the Ohio University Library, where I read Godwin’s children’s book The History of England, for the Use of Schools and Young Persons.
From the Huntington Library (San Marino, California) I acquired a photocopy of a key letter from Godwin to his daughter Mary, dated 22 July 1823, the key letter about the premiere on the London stage of Presumption; or, The Fate of Frankenstein.
The eminent Mary Shelley scholar Betty Bennett sent me a photocopy of Godwin’s “Memoir of the Author,” a foreword to his son’s novel, Transfusion (1835).
As I sit here now (June 2014), I imagine many (most? all?) of these documents are now available in digital format. I’ll check something obscure, right now. Let’s try The Life of Lady Jane Grey, which I acquired about fifteen years ago … [mere seconds pass] … yes … it’s available in a variety of formats. If I were beginning this project now, I could sit at my desk and find just about every Godwin document I need. It’s a powerful fact now (and an even more powerful cliché) that scholarly research is so much quicker … though how much better? That still depends on the complexity of the choreography of The Dance of the Scholar and His Sources.
Some other Godwin titles I purchased online and kept on my shelf: Caleb Williams, St Leon, Damon and Delia, The Enquirer: Reflections on Education, Manners and Literature, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, Italian Letters, Mandeville: A Tale of the Seventeenth Century in England, Memoirs of the Author of “The Rights of Woman.”
Later, on an already stressed credit card, I added $150 for a Godwin signature (I framed it with an engraving of him and one of Mary Wollstonecraft) and $556.30 to buy the eight-volume Pickering & Chatto Collected Novels and Memoirs of William Godwin. Among those memoirs is what surely was the most painful book he ever wrote—a tribute to his late wife, Mary Wollstonecraft. He tells the story of her life, of their meeting, of their falling for each other: It was friendship melting into love, he wrote.
Link to The Life of Lady Jane Grey ...