Caleb Williams, William Godwin
William Godwin was one of the most popular novelists of the Romantic era; P.B. Shelley praised him, Byron drew heavily on his narrative style, and Mary Shelley, Godwin’s daughter, dedicated Frankenstein to him.
Caleb Williams is the riveting account of a young man whose curiosity leads him to pry into a murder from the past. The first novel of crime and detection in English literature, Caleb Williams is also a powerful exposé of the evils and inequities of the political and social system in 1790s Britain.
When honest young Caleb Williams comes to work as a secretary for Squire Falkland, he soon begins to suspect that his new master is hiding a secret. As he digs deeper into Falkland’s past and finally unearths the horrible truth, the results of his curiosity prove calamitous when—even though Caleb has loyally sworn never to disclose what he has discovered—the Squire enacts a cruel revenge. A tale of gripping suspense and psychological power, William Godwin’s novel creates a searing depiction of the intolerable persecution meted out to a good man in pursuit of justice and equality. Written to expose the political oppression and corrupt hierarchies its author saw in the world around him, Caleb Williams makes a radical call to end the tyrannical misuses of power.