Caleb Williams Background

Caleb Williams Background

The Adventures of Caleb Williams is a three-part volume of books written by William Godwin on 12 May 1794. The publishing date was specifically chosen by Godwin due to the fact that on the very same day that Prime Minister William Pitt suspended habeas corpus to begin mass arrests of suspected radicals who were planning to overthrow King George III after the handling of the French Revolution.

The volume follows Caleb Williams, a socially base character who is provided with a job for the wealthy Ferdinando Falkland. Falkland suffers from sudden fits of rage that stem from his guilt of murdering his neighbor, Tyrrel, and Caleb bears the burden of this guilt by being accused and sent to prison. The story continues on Caleb's quest to oust Falkland as the murderer and stop the tyrannical power that he holds over him and the court.

The book had many negative views upon its releases, despite commercially being a success, as many people saw it as an insult to the government and society as it was. A review from the British Critic in 1794 stated “This piece is a striking example of the evil use which may be made of considerable talents". Many people saw the novel as being an advocate for anarchy and instability and concluded that Godwin was spreading evil through his words.

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