London: Printed for G. Robinson, 1784. First edition. 8vo, contemporary tree calf, xxxv, , 195, , 215, , 304 pages. Head and foot of the spine a little chipped, some light cracking to the front hinge but all quite sound; a little light wear; a very good copy. Item #17830
Founded by Andrew Kippis (Godwin’s tutor at Hoxton) as a Whig answer to Burke’s Annual Register, this annual compendium of history, politics, public documents, literature, poetry, and criticism for the year ranges across parliamentary news to scientific reports (a review of “aerostatic experiments” and the latest in ballooning) to literary criticism to public documents (including here the treaty ending the Revolutionary War). This number was also the first of seven to have its extensive section on “British and Foreign History” from the anonymous pen of William Godwin, who had been approached by Kippis and Robinson when the writer assigned the task hadn’t completed his assignment. Godwin gave up the position in 1791, having grown weary of the demands of the job and its limited scope—though as Peter Marshall notes in his life of Godwin, the work “demanded a detailed knowledge of leading events and personalities in Britain, Europe, India and America, as well as first-hand acquaintance with the parliamentary debates. In the next seven years Godwin was therefore to acquire a thorough understanding of contemporary history and politics” (68). See also Jack W. Marken, “William Godwin’s Writings for the New Annual Register.” Modern Language Notes. Vol. 68, No. 7 (Nov., 1953), pp. 477-479. Faint early ink offset to the front paste-down (as though from an ownership inscription) but no signs of an excised front free endpaper.