Francis Godwin, 1562-1633


Biographical note

English historian and the author of a somewhat remarkable story, published posthumously in 1638, and entitled The Man in the Moone, or a Discourse of a Voyage thither, by Domingo Gonsales, written apparently some time in the 1620s. In this production Godwin not only declares himself a believer in the Copernican system, but adopts so far the principles of the law of gravitation as to suppose that inertial mass decreases with distance from the Earth. The work, which displays considerable fancy and wit, influenced John Wilkins' The discovery of a world in the Moone. Both works were translated into French, and were imitated in several important particulars by Cyrano de Bergerac, from whom (if not from Godwin directly) Jonathan Swift obtained valuable hints in writing of Gulliver's voyage to Laputa.

Another work of Godwin's, Nuncius inanimatus, published In Utopia, originally printed in 1629 and again in 1657, seems to have been the prototype of John Wilkins's Mercury, or the Secret and Swift Messenger, which appeared in 1641.

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