Things as They Are; or The Adventures of Caleb Williams (often abbreviated to Caleb Williams) (1794) by William Godwin is a three-volume novel written as a call to end the abuse of power by what Godwin saw as a tyrannical government. Intended as a popularization of the ideas presented in his 1793 treatise Political Justice Godwin uses Caleb Williams to show how legal and other institutions can and do destroy individuals, even when the people the justice system touches are innocent of any crime. This reality, in Godwin's mind was therefore a description of "things as they are."
William Godwin was one of the most popular novelists of the Romantic era; P.B. Shelley praised him, Byron drew heavily on his narrative style, and Mary Shelley, Godwin’s daughter, dedicated Frankenstein to him. Caleb Williams is the riveting account of a young man whose curiosity leads him to pry into a murder from the past. The first novel of crime and detection in English literature, Caleb Williams is also a powerful exposé of the evils and inequities of the political and social system in 1790s Britain. In addition to the text itself, the editors have included an extensive selection of primary source materials from the period, ranging from Godwin’s original manuscript ending and excerpts from his political writings to contemporary reviews, the political writings of Burke and Paine, and materials on criminals and the English prison system.