Love in the Time of Revolution

Transatlantic Literary Radicalism and Historical Change, 1793-1818

By Andrew Cayton

368 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 14 halftones, notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-3349-7
    Published: February 2017
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-0751-1
    Published: June 2014
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4391-3
    Published: June 2014

Published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of North Carolina Press

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Published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of North Carolina Press

In 1798, English essayist and novelist William Godwin ignited a transatlantic scandal with Memoirs of the Author of "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman." Most controversial were the details of the romantic liaisons of Godwin's wife, Mary Wollstonecraft, with both American Gilbert Imlay and Godwin himself. Wollstonecraft's life and writings became central to a continuing discussion about love's place in human society. Literary radicals argued that the cultivation of intense friendship could lead to the renovation of social and political institutions, whereas others maintained that these freethinkers were indulging their own desires with a disregard for stability and higher authority. Through correspondence and novels, Andrew Cayton finds an ideal lens to view authors, characters, and readers all debating love's power to alter men and women in the world around them.

Cayton argues for Wollstonecraft's and Godwin's enduring influence on fiction published in Great Britain and the United States and explores Mary Godwin Shelley's endeavors to sustain her mother's faith in romantic love as an engine of social change.

About the Author

Andrew Cayton (1954-2015) held the Warner Woodring Chair in History at the Ohio State University. Previously, he was University Distinguished Professor of History at Miami University, where he taught for twenty-five years. With Fred Anderson, he was co-author of The Dominion of War: Empire and Liberty in North America, 1500-2000.
For more information about Andrew Cayton, visit the Author Page.


“[This] study is most successful in its detail, and [Cayton’s] methodical research into the transatlantic commerce in emotional theories is particularly impressive. . . . Cayton’s subject is a well-chosen and fascinating one.”--Times Literary Supplement

“I cannot think of a recent scholarly work in Atlantic studies that is more agreeably written or better oriented toward the general reader.”--New England Quarterly

“A well-written imaginative re-creation, based on historical research, of the motives, thoughts, arguments, and interrelationships of important British and American radicals.”--American Historical Review

“In his carefully crafted, emotionally evocative study, Love in the Time of Revolution: Transatlantic Literary Radicalism and Historical Change, 1793-1818, Andrew Cayton invites us to revisit this familiar story and reconsider it in the contexts of eighteenth-century political economy and literary production.”--William and Mary Quarterly

“Working mostly from published sources, but some archival collections as well, Cayton evokes the intense interplay between what Wollstonecraft and her circle were reading, and how they were living.”--SEL

"Demonstrates a remarkable versatility in his analysis and willingness to engage with different genres."--The Journal of Modern History

Multimedia & Links

Read In a guest blog post, Andrew Cayton describes how his intrigue in the personal letters of prominent nineteenth century figures, and the complex psychologies within, inspired a book that is historical in content but borrows from romantic narratives in form and tone. Read "History, Romance, and Conversations with Dead People"