In addition to the definitive UVA text of Brown's seminal novel, this edition includes an introduction setting the work in its historical, literary, and intellectual contexts. Selections from William Godwin's Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793), Erasmus Darwin's Zoonomia; or,The Laws of Organic Life (1794), Benjamin Franklin's "A Narrative of the Late Massacres" (1764), and Thomas Barton's "The conduct of the Paxton-men" (1764) are included here, as are several of Brown's lesser-known but revealing writings on such subjects as somnambulism and the uses of history in fiction.
Charles Brockden Brown (1771-1810) is an important figure in Gothic literature, credited with writing one of the first American Gothic novels. He was born in Pennsylvania to a Quaker family and originally trained to become a lawyer. Unable to apply the Gothic European settings of crumbling castles to America, he relocated his tales to rural locales, but maintained the same chilling atmosphere within his stories. Philip Barnard is Professor in the Department of English at the University of Kansas. Stephen Shapiro is Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick.