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date: 07 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The Woldwinites, the group of British writers centered around Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, were a key influence on Charles Brockden Brown’s writing. From them, he drew a coherent set of political and artistic ideas concerning fiction writing. This chapter outlines the major aspects of that influence. Brown read the Woldwinites in the context of the Friendly Club circle with his fellow club members Elihu Hubbard Smith and William Dunlap. By the mid-1790s, Brown had adopted Woldwinite fiction as a model for his own and espoused well-known Woldwinite tenets such as the duty to struggle for justice, deference to general utility, and reliance on patience and time to generate change. Brown adopted a more nuanced account of Godwin’s views of marriage after the appearance of the latter’s Memoirs of Wollstonecraft and articulated a systematic critique of the excessive sensibility often associated with Wollstonecraft in his novels and essays.

Keywords: Charles Brockden Brown, Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, Friendly Club, William Dunlap, moral independence, Thomas Holcroft, Woldwinite

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