Victoria & Albert MSL/1876/Forster/222/1

William Godwin’s An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice was published in two volumes on 14 February 1793. The work was composed between 15 September 1791 and 29 January 1793. It was revised for a second, and then a third edition, published in 1796 and 1798 respectively.

S-GA contains the sole surviving manuscript of Political Justice (MSL/1876/Forster/222), which also served as the printer’s copy. It comprises 629 leaves containing the holograph manuscript of the first edition of Political Justice, including revisions made as the work progressed, together with an abandoned first draft and preliminary drafts of materials for the second and third editions. The manuscript was originally written on loose leaves. On Godwin’s death in 1836, the manuscript was auctioned, along with fourteen others, in the sale of his library. The guard books in which the manuscript of Political Justice is now mounted were commissioned by its first purchaser, Dawson Turner.

For bibliographical details, including further information about provenance, paper, watermarks, and sequence of composition, see Pamela Clemit, ‘Political Justice: A Description of the Holograph Manuscript’ (2017).