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William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his life, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the
poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its popula ...
and visual art of the Romantic Age. What he called his prophetic works were said by 20th-century critic
Northrop Frye Herman Northrop Frye (July 14, 1912 – January 23, 1991) was a Canadian literary critic Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often influenced ...

Northrop Frye
to form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language". His visual artistry led 21st-century critic Jonathan Jones to proclaim him "far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced". In 2002, Blake was placed at number 38 in the
BBC The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster, headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London. It is the world's oldest national broadcaster, and the largest broadcasting, broadcaster in the world by ...

BBC
's poll of the
100 Greatest Britons ''100 Greatest Britons'' is a television series that was broadcast by the BBC The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a public service broadcaster, headquartered at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London. It is the world's oldest ...
. While he lived in
London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowerc ...

London
his entire life, except for three years spent in
Felpham Felpham (/ˈfelpəm/, sometimes pronounced locally as ''Felf-fm'') is a village and civil parish in the Arun District of West Sussex, England. Although sometimes considered part of the urban area of greater Bognor Regis, it is a village and civil ...
, he produced a diverse and symbolically rich collection of works, which embraced the imagination as "the body of God" or "human existence itself". Although Blake was considered mad by contemporaries for his
idiosyncratic An idiosyncrasy is an unusual feature of a person (though there are also other uses, see below). It can also mean an odd habit. The term is often used to express eccentricity Eccentricity or eccentric may refer to: * Eccentricity (behavior), odd ...
views, he is held in high regard by later critics for his expressiveness and creativity, and for the philosophical and mystical undercurrents within his work. His paintings and poetry have been characterised as part of the Romantic movement and as "Pre-Romantic". A committed Christian who was hostile to the
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is a Christian church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Critic ...
(indeed, to almost all forms of organised religion), Blake was influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the
French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of co ...

French
and
American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or A ...
revolutions. Though later he rejected many of these political beliefs, he maintained an amiable relationship with the political activist
Thomas Paine Thomas Paine (born Thomas Pain; – In the contemporary record as noted by Conway, Paine's birth date is given as January 29, 1736–37. Common practice was to use a dash or a slash to separate the old-style year from the new-style year. In th ...

Thomas Paine
; he was also influenced by thinkers such as
Emanuel Swedenborg Emanuel Swedenborg (, ; born Emanuel Swedberg; 29 March 1772) was a -Christian , , and . He became best known for his book on the , (1758). Swedenborg had a prolific career as an and . In 1741, at 53, he entered into a phase in which he be ...

Emanuel Swedenborg
. Despite these known influences, the singularity of Blake's work makes him difficult to classify. The 19th-century scholar
William Michael Rossetti William Michael Rossetti (25 September 1829 – 5 February 1919) was an English writer and critic. Early life Born in London, Rossetti was a son of immigrant Italian scholar Gabriele Rossetti Gabriele Pasquale Giuseppe Rossetti (28 Februa ...

William Michael Rossetti
characterised him as a "glorious luminary", and "a man not forestalled by predecessors, nor to be classed with contemporaries, nor to be replaced by known or readily surmisable successors".


Early life

William Blake was born on 28 November 1757 at 28 Broad Street (now Broadwick St.) in
Soho Soho is an area of the City of Westminster The City of Westminster is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and London boroughs, borough in Inner London which forms a core part of Central London. It is the site of the United Kingdom's ...

Soho
, London. He was the third of seven children,Bentley, Gerald Eades and Bentley Jr., G. ''William Blake: The Critical Heritage''. 1995, pp. 34–5. two of whom died in infancy. Blake's father, James, was a
hosier Hosiery, also referred to as legwear, describes garments worn directly on the feet The foot (plural: feet) is an anatomical Anatomy (Greek ''anatomē'', 'dissection') is the branch of biology Biology is the natural science that stud ...
, who had come to London from Ireland. He attended school only long enough to learn reading and writing, leaving at the age of ten, and was otherwise educated at home by his mother Catherine Blake (''née'' Wright). Even though the Blakes were
English Dissenters English Dissenters or English Separatists were Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protestants originating in the Reformation reject t ...
,The Stranger From Paradise: A Biography of William Blake, Bentley (2001) William was baptised on 11 December at St James's Church, Piccadilly, London. The Bible was an early and profound influence on Blake, and remained a source of inspiration throughout his life. Blake started engraving copies of drawings of
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
antiquities Antiquities are objects from antiquity Antiquity or Antiquities may refer to Historical objects or periods Artifacts * Antiquities, objects or artifacts surviving from ancient cultures Eras Any period before the European Middle Ages ...
purchased for him by his father, a practice that was preferred to actual drawing. Within these drawings Blake found his first exposure to classical forms through the work of
Raphael Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (; March 28 or April 6, 1483April 6, 1520), known as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect An architect is a person who plans, designs and oversees the construction of buildings. To practice architecture ...

Raphael
,
Michelangelo Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (; 6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564), known simply as Michelangelo (), was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet of the High Renaissance In art history, the High Renaissance was ...

Michelangelo
,
Maarten van Heemskerck Maerten van Heemskerck or ''Marten Jacobsz Heemskerk van Veen'' (1 June 1498 – 1 October 1574) was a Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language ...
and
Albrecht Dürer Albrecht Dürer (; ; 21 May 1471 – 6 April 1528),Müller, Peter O. (1993) ''Substantiv-Derivation in Den Schriften Albrecht Dürers'', Walter de Gruyter. . sometimes spelled in English as Durer or Duerer (without an umlaut), was a German pain ...

Albrecht Dürer
. The number of prints and bound books that James and Catherine were able to purchase for young William suggests that the Blakes enjoyed, at least for a time, a comfortable wealth. When William was ten years old, his parents knew enough of his headstrong temperament that he was not sent to school but instead enrolled in drawing classes at Henry Pars’ drawing school in the Strand. He read avidly on subjects of his own choosing. During this period, Blake made explorations into poetry; his early work displays knowledge of
Ben Jonson Benjamin Jonson (c. 11 June 1572 – c. 16 August 1637) was an English playwright and poet. Jonson's artistry exerted a lasting influence upon English poetry and stage comedy. He popularised the comedy of humours The comedy of humours is a ge ...
,
Edmund Spenser Edmund Spenser (; 1552/1553 – 13 January 1599) was an English poet best known for ''The Faerie Queene ''The Faerie Queene'' is an English Epic poetry, epic poem by Edmund Spenser. Books IIII were first published in 1590, then republished i ...

Edmund Spenser
, and the
Psalms The Book of Psalms ( or ; he, תְּהִלִּים, , lit. "praises"), commonly referred to simply as Psalms, the Psalter or "the Psalms", is the first book of the ("Writings"), the third section of the Tanakh The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh ...

Psalms
.


Apprenticeship

On 4 August 1772, Blake was apprenticed to engraver
James Basire James Basire (1730–1802 London), also known as James Basire Sr., was a British engraver. He is the most significant of a family of engravers, and noted for his apprenticing of the young William Blake. Early life His father was Isaac Basire ( ...
of
Great Queen Street Great Queen Street is a street in the West End West End most commonly refers to: * West End of London, an area of central London, England * West End theatre, a popular term for mainstream professional theatre staged in the large theatres of Lo ...

Great Queen Street
, at the sum of £52.10, for a term of seven years. At the end of the term, aged 21, he became a professional engraver. No record survives of any serious disagreement or conflict between the two during the period of Blake's apprenticeship, but
Peter Ackroyd Peter Ackroyd, (born 5 October 1949) is an English biographer, novelist and critic with a particular interest in the history and culture of London. For his novels about English history and culture and his biographies of, among others, William ...
's biography notes that Blake later added Basire's name to a list of artistic adversaries – and then crossed it out. This aside, Basire's style of line-engraving was of a kind held at the time to be old-fashioned compared to the flashier
stipple Stippling is the creation of a pattern simulating varying Grayscale, degrees of solidity or shading by using small dots. Such a pattern may occur in nature and these effects are frequently emulated by artists. Art In a drawing or painting, th ...
or
mezzotint Mezzotint is a monochrome printmaking process of the ''intaglio (printmaking), intaglio'' family. It was the first printing process that yielded half-tones without using line- or dot-based techniques like hatching, cross-hatching or stipple. Mezz ...
styles. It has been speculated that Blake's instruction in this outmoded form may have been detrimental to his acquiring of work or recognition in later life. After two years, Basire sent his apprentice to copy images from the
Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and languages *Goths or Gothic people, the ethnonym of a group of East Germanic tribes **Gothic language, an extinct East Germanic language spoken by the Goths **Crimean Gothic, the Gothic language spoken by ...
churches in London (perhaps to settle a quarrel between Blake and James Parker, his fellow apprentice). His experiences in
Westminster Abbey Westminster Abbey, formally titled the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster, is a large, mainly Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and languages *Goths or Gothic people, the ethnonym of a group of East Germanic tribes ...

Westminster Abbey
helped form his artistic style and ideas. The Abbey of his day was decorated with suits of armour, painted funeral effigies and varicoloured waxworks. Ackroyd notes that "...the most immediate mpressionwould have been of faded brightness and colour". This close study of the Gothic (which he saw as the "living form") left clear traces in his style. In the long afternoons Blake spent sketching in the Abbey, he was occasionally interrupted by boys from
Westminster School (God Gives the Increase) , established = Earliest records date from the 14th century, refounded in 1560 , type = Public school Independent Independent or Independents may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Artist groups ...
, who were allowed in the Abbey. They teased him and one tormented him so much that Blake knocked the boy off a scaffold to the ground, "upon which he fell with terrific Violence". After Blake complained to the Dean, the schoolboys' privilege was withdrawn. Blake claimed that he experienced visions in the Abbey. He saw Christ with his
Apostles upright=1.35, Jesus and his Twelve Apostles, Chi-Rho symbol ☧, Catacombs of Domitilla">Chi_Rho.html" ;"title="fresco with the Chi Rho">Chi-Rho symbol ☧, Catacombs of Domitilla, Rome In Christian theology and ecclesiology, apostles, parti ...

Apostles
and a great procession of monks and priests, and heard their chant.


Royal Academy

On 8 October 1779, Blake became a student at the
Royal Academy The Royal Academy of Arts (RA) is an art institution based in Burlington House Burlington House is a building on Piccadilly in Mayfair, London. It was originally a private Palladian architecture, Palladian mansion owned by the Earl of B ...

Royal Academy
in Old Somerset House, near the Strand. While the terms of his study required no payment, he was expected to supply his own materials throughout the six-year period. There, he rebelled against what he regarded as the unfinished style of fashionable painters such as
Rubens Sir Peter Paul Rubens (; ; 28 June 1577 – 30 May 1640) was a Flemish Flemish (''Vlaams'') is a Low Franconian Low Franconian, Low Frankish, NetherlandicSarah Grey Thomason, Terrence Kaufman: ''Language Contact, Creolization, and Geneti ...

Rubens
, championed by the school's first president,
Joshua Reynolds Sir Joshua Reynolds (16 July 1723 – 23 February 1792) was an English painter, specialising in Portrait, portraits. John Russell (art critic), John Russell said he was one of the major European painters of the 18th century. He promoted the Gra ...

Joshua Reynolds
. Over time, Blake came to detest Reynolds' attitude towards art, especially his pursuit of "general truth" and "general beauty". Reynolds wrote in his ''Discourses'' that the "disposition to abstractions, to generalising and classification, is the great glory of the human mind"; Blake responded, in marginalia to his personal copy, that "To Generalize is to be an Idiot; To Particularize is the Alone Distinction of Merit". Blake also disliked Reynolds' apparent humility, which he held to be a form of hypocrisy. Against Reynolds' fashionable
oil painting Oil painting is the process of painting Painting is the practice of applying paint Paint is any pigmented liquid, liquefiable, or solid mastic composition that, after application to a substrate in a thin layer, converts to a ...
, Blake preferred the Classical precision of his early influences,
Michelangelo Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (; 6 March 1475 – 18 February 1564), known simply as Michelangelo (), was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet of the High Renaissance In art history, the High Renaissance was ...

Michelangelo
and
Raphael Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (; March 28 or April 6, 1483April 6, 1520), known as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect An architect is a person who plans, designs and oversees the construction of buildings. To practice architecture ...

Raphael
. David Bindman suggests that Blake's antagonism towards Reynolds arose not so much from the president's opinions (like Blake, Reynolds held
history painting History painting is a genre in painting Painting is the practice of applying paint Paint is any pigmented liquid, liquefiable, or solid mastic composition that, after application to a substrate in a thin layer, converts to a soli ...
to be of greater value than landscape and portraiture), but rather "against his hypocrisy in not putting his ideals into practice." Certainly Blake was not averse to exhibiting at the Royal Academy, submitting works on six occasions between 1780 and 1808. Blake became a friend of
John Flaxman John Flaxman (6 July 1755 – 7 December 1826) was a British sculpture, sculptor and drawing, draughtsman, and a leading figure in British and European Neoclassicism. Early in his career he worked as a modeller for Josiah Wedgwood's pottery. H ...
,
Thomas Stothard Thomas Stothard (17 August 1755 – 27 April 1834) was an English painter, illustrator and engraver. His son, Robert T. Stothard was a painter (fl.1810): he painted the proclamation outside York Minster of Queen Victoria's accession to the throne ...
and
George Cumberland George Cumberland (1754–1848) was an English art collector, writer and poet. He was a lifelong friend and supporter of William Blake William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Larg ...
during his first year at the Royal Academy. They shared radical views, with Stothard and Cumberland joining the
Society for Constitutional Information The Society for Constitutional Information was a British activist group founded in 1780 by Major John Cartwright, to promote parliamentary reform. It was an organisation of social reformers, many of whom were drawn from the rational dissenting c ...
.


Gordon Riots

Blake's first biographer,
Alexander Gilchrist Alexander Gilchrist (182830 November 1861), an English author, is known mainly as a biographer of William Etty and of William Blake William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unre ...
, records that in June 1780 Blake was walking towards Basire's shop in Great Queen Street when he was swept up by a rampaging mob that stormed
Newgate Prison Newgate Prison was a prison A prison, also known as a jail or gaol (dated, English language in England, standard English, Australian English, Australian, and Huron Historic Gaol, historically in Canada), penitentiary (American Engli ...
. The mob attacked the prison gates with shovels and pickaxes, set the building ablaze, and released the prisoners inside. Blake was reportedly in the front rank of the mob during the attack. The riots, in response to a parliamentary bill revoking sanctions against Roman Catholicism, became known as the
Gordon Riots The Gordon Riots of 1780 were several days of rioting in London motivated by anti-Catholic sentiment. They began with a large and orderly protest against the Papists Act 1778, Papists Act of 1778, which was intended to reduce official Anti-Catholi ...
and provoked a flurry of legislation from the government of
George III George III (George William Frederick; 4 June 173829 January 1820) was King of Great Britain There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on th ...

George III
, and the creation of the first police force.


Career


Marriage

Blake met Catherine Boucher in 1782 when he was recovering from a relationship that had culminated in a refusal of his marriage proposal. He recounted the story of his heartbreak for Catherine and her parents, after which he asked Catherine, "Do you pity me?" When she responded affirmatively, he declared, "Then I love you." Blake married Catherine – who was five years his junior – on 18 August 1782 in
St Mary's Church, Battersea St Mary's Church, Battersea, is the oldest of the churches in Battersea in the London Borough of Wandsworth, in the inner south-west of the UK's capital city. Its parish shared by three Church of England, Anglican churches is in the Anglican Dioc ...

St Mary's Church, Battersea
. Illiterate, Catherine signed her wedding contract with an X. The original wedding certificate may be viewed at the church, where a commemorative stained-glass window was installed between 1976 and 1982. Later, in addition to teaching Catherine to read and write, Blake trained her as an engraver. Throughout his life she proved a valuable aid, helping to print his illuminated works and maintaining his spirits throughout numerous misfortunes. Blake's first collection of poems, ''
Poetical Sketches ''Poetical Sketches'' is the first collection of poetry and prose by William Blake, written between 1769 and 1777. Forty copies were printed in 1783 with the help of Blake's friends, the artist John Flaxman and the Reverend Anthony Stephen Mathe ...
'', was printed around 1783. After his father's death, Blake and former fellow apprentice James Parker opened a print shop in 1784, and began working with radical publisher Joseph Johnson. Johnson's house was a meeting-place for some leading English intellectual dissidents of the time: theologian and scientist
Joseph Priestley Joseph Priestley (; 24 March 1733 – 6 February 1804) was an English chemist A chemist (from Greek ''chēm(ía)'' alchemy; replacing ''chymist'' from Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a cla ...
, philosopher
Richard Price Richard Price (23 February 1723 – 19 April 1791) was a Welsh moral philosopher Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong action (philosophy), ...

Richard Price
, artist John Henry Fuseli, early feminist
Mary Wollstonecraft Mary Wollstonecraft (, ; 27 April 1759 – 10 September 1797) was an English writer, philosopher, and advocate of women's rights. Until the late 20th century, Wollstonecraft's life, which encompassed several unconventional personal rela ...

Mary Wollstonecraft
and English revolutionary
Thomas Paine Thomas Paine (born Thomas Pain; – In the contemporary record as noted by Conway, Paine's birth date is given as January 29, 1736–37. Common practice was to use a dash or a slash to separate the old-style year from the new-style year. In th ...

Thomas Paine
. Along with
William Wordsworth William Wordsworth (7 April 177023 April 1850) was an English Romantic Romantic may refer to: Genres and eras * The Romantic era, an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement of the 18th and 19th centuries ** Romantic music, of ...

William Wordsworth
and
William Godwin William Godwin (3 March 1756 – 7 April 1836) was an English journalist, political philosophy, political philosopher and novelist. He is considered one of the first exponents of utilitarianism and the first modern proponent of anarchism. God ...
, Blake had great hopes for the
French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of co ...

French
and
American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or A ...
revolutions and wore a
Phrygian cap The Phrygian cap () or liberty cap is a soft conical with the apex bent over, associated in with several peoples in Eastern Europe and , including the , , and , where the name originated. Although Phrygian caps did not originally function ...

Phrygian cap
in solidarity with the French revolutionaries, but despaired with the rise of
Robespierre Maximilien François Marie Isidore de Robespierre (; 6 May 1758 – 28 July 1794) was a French lawyer and statesman who was one of the best-known and most influential figures of the French Revolution. As a member of the National Constitu ...

Robespierre
and the
Reign of Terror The Reign of Terror, commonly called The Terror (french: link=no, la Terreur), was a period of the French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), offici ...
in France. In 1784 Blake composed his unfinished manuscript ''
An Island in the Moon ''An Island in the Moon'' is the name generally assigned to an untitled, unfinished prose satire by William Blake, written in late 1784. Containing early versions of three poems later included in ''Songs of Innocence and of Experience, Songs of ...
''. Blake illustrated ''
Original Stories from Real Life ''Original Stories from Real Life; with Conversations Calculated to Regulate the Affections, and Form the Mind to Truth and Goodness'' is the only complete work of children's literature by the 18th-century English Feminism, feminist author Mary ...
'' (2nd edition, 1791) by Mary Wollstonecraft. They seem to have shared some views on sexual equality and the institution of marriage, but there is no evidence proving that they met. In 1793's ''
Visions of the Daughters of Albion ''Visions of the Daughters of Albion'' is a 1793 poem by William Blake, produced as a book with his own illustrations. It is a short and early example of his William Blake's prophetic books, prophetic books, and a sequel of sorts to ''The Book of Th ...
'', Blake condemned the cruel absurdity of enforced chastity and marriage without love and defended the right of women to complete self-fulfilment. From 1790 to 1800, William Blake lived in North
Lambeth Lambeth () is a district in South London South London is the informally defined southern part of London London is the and of and the . It stands on the in south-east England at the head of a down to the , and has been a major se ...
, London, at 13 Hercules Buildings,
Hercules Road Hercules Road runs north from Lambeth Road near Lambeth Palace, on the site of Penlington Place, in the London Borough of Lambeth, south London, England. The road is named after Hercules Hall, which was built by and was the home of Philip Astle ...
. The property was demolished in 1918, but the site is now marked with a plaque. There is a series of 70 mosaics commemorating Blake in the nearby railway tunnels of
Waterloo Station Waterloo station (), also known as London Waterloo, is a London station group, central London terminus on the National Rail network in the United Kingdom, in the Waterloo, London, Waterloo area of the London Borough of Lambeth. It is connected ...
. The mosaics largely reproduce illustrations from Blake's illuminated books, ''The Songs of Innocence and of Experience'', ''
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell ''The Marriage of Heaven and Hell'' is a book by the English poet and printmaker William Blake. It is a series of texts written in imitation of Bible prophecy, biblical prophecy but expressing Blake's own intensely personal Romanticism, Romanti ...
'', and the
prophetic books The prophetic books are a division of the Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ ...
.


Relief etching

In 1788, aged 31, Blake experimented with
relief etching Etching is traditionally the process of using strong acid or mordant to cut into the unprotected parts of a metal surface to create a design in Intaglio (printmaking), intaglio (incised) in the metal. In modern manufacturing, other chemicals may ...
, a method he used to produce most of his books, paintings, pamphlets and poems. The process is also referred to as illuminated printing, and the finished products as illuminated books or prints. Illuminated printing involved writing the text of the poems on copper plates with pens and brushes, using an acid-resistant medium. Illustrations could appear alongside words in the manner of earlier
illuminated manuscript An illuminated manuscript is a formally prepared document A document is a writing, written, drawing, drawn, presented, or memorialized representation of thought, often the manifestation of nonfiction, non-fictional, as well as fictional, con ...
s. He then etched the plates in acid to dissolve the untreated copper and leave the design standing in relief (hence the name). This is a reversal of the usual method of etching, where the lines of the design are exposed to the acid, and the plate printed by the
intaglio Intaglio, the process of cutting a design into a surface, may refer to: * Intaglio, a type of engraved gem or metal signet ring * Intaglio (printmaking), a group of printmaking techniques, including engraving and etching * Intaglio (rock art) * Inta ...
method. Relief etching (which Blake referred to as "
stereotype Social psychology Social psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the unive ...
" in ''The Ghost of Abel'') was intended as a means for producing his illuminated books more quickly than via intaglio. Stereotype, a process invented in 1725, consisted of making a metal cast from a wood engraving, but Blake's innovation was, as described above, very different. The pages printed from these plates were hand-coloured in
watercolours Watercolor (American English) or watercolour (British English; see American and British English spelling differences#-our, -or, spelling differences), also ''aquarelle'' (; from Italian diminutive of Latin ''aqua'' "water"), is a painting met ...
and stitched together to form a volume. Blake used illuminated printing for most of his well-known works, including ''
Songs of Innocence and of Experience ''Songs of Innocence and of Experience'' is a collection of illustrated poems by William Blake. It appeared in two phases: a few first copies were printed and Illuminated manuscript, illuminated by Blake himself in 1789; five years later he bou ...
'', ''
The Book of Thel Image:The Book of Thel.jpg, William Blake: ''The Book of Thel'', copy O, plate 1. Copy O, in the collection of the Library of Congress, is one of the two 1815-18 printings of ''Thel''; the other is Copy N, in the collection of the Cincinnati Art Mus ...

The Book of Thel
'', ''
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell ''The Marriage of Heaven and Hell'' is a book by the English poet and printmaker William Blake. It is a series of texts written in imitation of Bible prophecy, biblical prophecy but expressing Blake's own intensely personal Romanticism, Romanti ...
'' and ''
Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس, ', , (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names); grc, Ἱερουσαλήμ/Ἰεροσόλυμα, Hierousalḗm/Hierosóluma; hy, Երուսաղեմ, Erusał ...
''.


Engravings

Although Blake has become better known for his relief etching, his commercial work largely consisted of intaglio engraving, the standard process of engraving in the 18th century in which the artist incised an image into the copper plate, a complex and laborious process, with plates taking months or years to complete, but as Blake's contemporary,
John Boydell John Boydell (; 19 January 1720 (New Style Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) indicate a dating system from before and after a calendar change, respectively. Usually this is the change from the Julian calendar The Julian calendar, pr ...
, realised, such engraving offered a "missing link with commerce", enabling artists to connect with a mass audience and became an immensely important activity by the end of the 18th century. ''Europe Supported by Africa and America'' is an engraving by Blake held in the collection of the University of Arizona Museum of Art. The engraving was for a book written by Blake's friend
John Gabriel Stedman John Gabriel Stedman (1744 – 7 March 1797) was a Dutch-born Scottish soldier who wrote ''The Narrative of a Five Years Expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam'' (1796). This narrative covers his years in Surinam (Dutch colony), Suri ...

John Gabriel Stedman
called ''The Narrative of a Five Years Expedition against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam'' (1796). It depicts three attractive women embracing one another. Black Africa and White Europe hold hands in a gesture of equality, as the barren earth blooms beneath their feet. Europe wears a string of pearls, while her sisters Africa and America are depicted wearing slave bracelets. Some scholars have speculated that the bracelets represent the "historical fact" of slavery in Africa and the Americas while the handclasp refer to Stedman's "ardent wish": "we only differ in color, but are certainly all created by the same Hand." Others have said it "expresses the climate of opinion in which the questions of color and slavery were, at that time, being considered, and which Blake's writings reflect". Blake employed intaglio engraving in his own work, such as for his ''Illustrations of the Book of Job'', completed just before his death. Most critical work has concentrated on Blake's relief etching as a technique because it is the most innovative aspect of his art, but a 2009 study drew attention to Blake's surviving plates, including those for the
Book of Job The Book of Job (; he, אִיּוֹב – ''ʾIyyōḇ'') is a book of the Hebrew Bible. It addresses the problem of theodicy, meaning why God permits evil in the world, through the experiences of the eponymous protagonist. Job (biblic ...
: they demonstrate that he made frequent use of a technique known as "", a means of obliterating mistakes by hammering them out by hitting the back of the plate. Such techniques, typical of engraving work of the time, are very different from the much faster and fluid way of drawing on a plate that Blake employed for his relief etching, and indicates why the engravings took so long to complete.


Later life

Blake's marriage to Catherine was close and devoted until his death. Blake taught Catherine to write, and she helped him colour his printed poems. Gilchrist refers to "stormy times" in the early years of the marriage. Some biographers have suggested that Blake tried to bring a
concubine Concubinage is an interpersonal The concept of interpersonal relationship involves social associations, connections, or affiliations between two or more people. Interpersonal relationships vary in their degree of intimacy or self-disclo ...
into the marriage bed in accordance with the beliefs of the more radical branches of the Swedenborgian Society, but other scholars have dismissed these theories as conjecture. In his Dictionary, Samuel Foster Damon suggests that Catherine may have had a stillborn daughter for which ''The Book of Thel'' is an elegy. That is how he rationalizes the Book's unusual ending, but notes that he is speculating.


Felpham

In 1800, Blake moved to a
cottage A cottage, during Feudalism in England, England's feudal period, was the holding by a cottager (known as a cotter or ''bordar'') of a small house with enough garden to feed a family and in return for the cottage, the cottager had to provide s ...
at
Felpham Felpham (/ˈfelpəm/, sometimes pronounced locally as ''Felf-fm'') is a village and civil parish in the Arun District of West Sussex, England. Although sometimes considered part of the urban area of greater Bognor Regis, it is a village and civil ...
, in Sussex (now
West Sussex West Sussex is a county A county is a geographical region of a country used for administrative or other purposesChambers Dictionary The ''Chambers Dictionary'' (''TCD'') was first published by William Chambers (publisher), William an ...

West Sussex
), to take up a job illustrating the works of
William Hayley William Hayley (9 November 174512 November 1820) was an English writer, best known as the biographer of his friend William Cowper. Biography Born at Chichester, he was sent to Eton College, Eton in 1757, and to Trinity Hall, Cambridge, in 1762 ...

William Hayley
, a minor poet. It was in this cottage that Blake began '' Milton'' (the title page is dated 1804, but Blake continued to work on it until 1808). The preface to this work includes a poem beginning "
And did those feet in ancient time "And did those feet in ancient time" is a poem by William Blake from the preface to his epic ''Milton: A Poem in Two Books'', one of a collection of writings known as the Blake's prophetic books, Prophetic Books. The date of 1804 on the title pag ...
", which became the words for the anthem "
Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس, ', , (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names); grc, Ἱερουσαλήμ/Ἰεροσόλυμα, Hierousalḗm/Hierosóluma; hy, Երուսաղեմ, Erusał ...
". Over time, Blake began to resent his new patron, believing that Hayley was uninterested in true artistry, and preoccupied with "the meer drudgery of business" (E724). Blake's disenchantment with Hayley has been speculated to have influenced ''Milton: a Poem'', in which Blake wrote that "Corporeal Friends are Spiritual Enemies". (4:26, E98) Blake's trouble with authority came to a head in August 1803, when he was involved in a physical altercation with a soldier, John Schofield. Blake was charged not only with assault, but with uttering seditious and treasonable expressions against the king. Schofield claimed that Blake had exclaimed "Damn the king. The soldiers are all slaves." Blake was cleared in the
Chichester Chichester () is a City status in the United Kingdom, cathedral city and civil parish in West Sussex, England.OS Explorer map 120: Chichester, South Harting and Selsey Scale: 1:25 000. Publisher:Ordnance Survey – Southampton B2 edition. Publis ...

Chichester
assize The courts of assize, or assizes (), were periodic courts held around England and Wales until 1972, when together with the quarter sessions they were abolished by the Courts Act 1971 and replaced by a single permanent Crown Court. The assizes exerc ...

assize
s of the charges. According to a report in the Sussex county paper, " e invented character of he evidencewas ... so obvious that an acquittal resulted". Schofield was later depicted wearing "mind forged manacles" in an illustration to ''
Jerusalem The Emanation of the Giant Albion ''Jerusalem'', subtitled ''The Emanation of the Giant Albion'' (1804–1820, with additions made even later), is the last, longest and greatest in scope of the William Blake's prophetic books, prophetic books written and illustrated by the Engl ...
''.


Return to London

Blake returned to London in 1804 and began to write and illustrate ''
Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس, ', , (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names); grc, Ἱερουσαλήμ/Ἰεροσόλυμα, Hierousalḗm/Hierosóluma; hy, Երուսաղեմ, Erusał ...
'' (1804–20), his most ambitious work. Having conceived the idea of portraying the characters in
Chaucer Geoffrey Chaucer (; – 25 October 1400) was an English poet and author. Widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the 5th ...

Chaucer
's ''
Canterbury Tales ''The Canterbury Tales'' ( enm, Tales of Caunterbury) is a collection of 24 stories that runs to over 17,000 lines written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer between 1387 and 1400. It is near-unanimously seen as Chaucer's ''Masterpiece, mag ...

Canterbury Tales
'', Blake approached the dealer
Robert CromekImage:BlakeMalkin.jpg, William Blake's frontispiece to ''A Father's Memoirs of his Child'' (1806), engraved by Cromek. Robert Hartley Cromek (1770–1812) was an English engraver, editor, art dealer and entrepreneur who was most active in the early n ...
, with a view to marketing an engraving. Knowing Blake was too eccentric to produce a popular work, Cromek promptly commissioned Blake's friend Thomas Stothard to execute the concept. When Blake learned he had been cheated, he broke off contact with Stothard. He set up an independent exhibition in his brother's
haberdashery In British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of grammar and usage and is e ...
shop at 27 Broad Street in
Soho Soho is an area of the City of Westminster The City of Westminster is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and London boroughs, borough in Inner London which forms a core part of Central London. It is the site of the United Kingdom's ...

Soho
. The exhibition was designed to market his own version of the Canterbury illustration (titled ''The Canterbury Pilgrims''), along with other works. As a result, he wrote his '' Descriptive Catalogue'' (1809), which contains what
Anthony Blunt Anthony or Antony is a masculine Masculinity (also called manhood or manliness) is a set of attributes, behavior Behavior (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States Engli ...
called a "brilliant analysis" of Chaucer and is regularly anthologised as a classic of Chaucer criticism. It also contained detailed explanations of his other paintings. The exhibition was very poorly attended, selling none of the temperas or watercolours. Its only review, in '' The Examiner'', was hostile. Also around this time (circa 1808), Blake gave vigorous expression of his views on art in an extensive series of polemical annotations to the ''Discourses'' of
Sir Joshua Reynolds Sir Joshua Reynolds (16 July 1723 – 23 February 1792) was an English painter, specialising in Portrait, portraits. John Russell (art critic), John Russell said he was one of the major European painters of the 18th century. He promoted the Gra ...

Sir Joshua Reynolds
, denouncing the
Royal Academy The Royal Academy of Arts (RA) is an art institution based in Burlington House Burlington House is a building on Piccadilly in Mayfair, London. It was originally a private Palladian architecture, Palladian mansion owned by the Earl of B ...

Royal Academy
as a fraud and proclaiming, "To Generalize is to be an Idiot". In 1818, he was introduced by George Cumberland's son to a young artist named
John Linnell John Sidney Linnell (born June 12, 1959) is an American musician, known primarily as one half of the Brooklyn-based alternative rock band They Might Be Giants. In addition to singing and songwriting, he plays accordion, Baritone saxophone, bari ...
. A blue plaque commemorates Blake and Linnell at Old Wyldes' at North End, Hampstead. Through Linnell he met
Samuel Palmer Samuel Palmer Hon.RE (Hon. Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, Society of Painter-Etchers) (27 January 180524 May 1881) was a British Landscape art, landscape painter, etcher and printmaker. He was also a prolific writer. Palmer ...

Samuel Palmer
, who belonged to a group of artists who called themselves the
Shoreham Ancients The Ancients (also known as the Shoreham Ancients) were a group of young English artists and others who were brought together around 1824 by their attraction to archaism in art and admiration for the work of William Blake (1757–1827), who was a ...
. The group shared Blake's rejection of modern trends and his belief in a spiritual and artistic New Age. Aged 65, Blake began work on
illustrations An illustration is a decoration, interpretation or visual explanation of a text, concept or process, designed for integration in print and digital published media, such as poster A poster is a temporary promotion of an idea, product, or eve ...
for the ''
Book of Job The Book of Job (; he, אִיּוֹב – ''ʾIyyōḇ'') is a book of the Hebrew Bible. It addresses the problem of theodicy, meaning why God permits evil in the world, through the experiences of the eponymous protagonist. Job (biblic ...
'', later admired by , who compared Blake favourably to
Rembrandt Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (, ; 15 July 1606 – 4 October 1669), usually simply known as Rembrandt, was a Dutch Golden Age painter, printmaker and Drawing, draughtsman. An innovative and prolific Old Masters, master in three art medi ...

Rembrandt
, and by
Vaughan Williams Ralph Vaughan Williams, (; 12 October 1872– 26 August 1958) was an English composer. His works include operas, ballets, chamber music, secular and religious vocal pieces and orchestral compositions including nine symphonies, written over ...
, who based his ballet '' Job: A Masque for Dancing'' on a selection of the illustrations. In later life Blake began to sell a great number of his works, particularly his Bible illustrations, to Thomas Butts, a patron who saw Blake more as a friend than a man whose work held artistic merit; this was typical of the opinions held of Blake throughout his life. The commission for
Dante Dante Alighieri (), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to Mononymous person, simply as Dante (, also ; – 14 September 1321), was an Italian Italian poetry, poet, writer and philosopher. His ''Divine Co ...

Dante
's ''
Divine Comedy The ''Divine Comedy'' ( it, Divina Commedia ) is an Italian narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aes ...

Divine Comedy
'' came to Blake in 1826 through Linnell, with the aim of producing a series of engravings. Blake's death in 1827 cut short the enterprise, and only a handful of watercolours were completed, with only seven of the engravings arriving at proof form. Even so, they have earned praise: Blake's illustrations of the poem are not merely accompanying works, but rather seem to critically revise, or furnish commentary on, certain spiritual or moral aspects of the text. Because the project was never completed, Blake's intent may be obscured. Some indicators bolster the impression that Blake's illustrations in their totality would take issue with the text they accompany: In the margin of ''
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally re ...

Homer
Bearing the Sword and His Companions'', Blake notes, "Every thing in Dantes Comedia shews That for Tyrannical Purposes he has made This World the Foundation of All & the Goddess Nature & not the Holy Ghost." Blake seems to dissent from Dante's admiration of the poetic works of
ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, antiquity ( AD 600). This era wa ...
, and from the apparent glee with which Dante allots punishments in Hell (as evidenced by the grim humour of the
canto The canto () is a principal form of division in medieval and modern long poetry. Etymology and equivalent terms The word ''canto'' is derived from the Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of It ...

canto
s). At the same time, Blake shared Dante's distrust of materialism and the corruptive nature of power, and clearly relished the opportunity to represent the atmosphere and imagery of Dante's work pictorially. Even as he seemed to be near death, Blake's central preoccupation was his feverish work on the illustrations to Dante's ''
Inferno Inferno may refer to: * Hell, an afterlife place of suffering * Conflagration, a large uncontrolled fire Film * ''L'Inferno'', a 1911 Italian film * Inferno (1953 film), ''Inferno'' (1953 film), a film noir by Roy Ward Baker * Inferno (1973 fi ...
''; he is said to have spent one of the last
shilling The shilling is a historical coin, and the name of a unit of modern currencies A currency, "in circulation", from la, currens, -entis, literally meaning "running" or "traversing" in the most specific sense is money Image:National-D ...
s he possessed on a pencil to continue sketching.


Final years

Blake's last years were spent at Fountain Court off the
Strand Strand may refer to: Topography *The flat area of land bordering a body of water, a: ** Beach ** Shoreline *Strand swamp, a type of swamp habitat in Florida Places Africa *Strand, Western Cape, a seaside town in South Africa *Strand Street, ...
(the property was demolished in the 1880s, when the
Savoy Hotel The Savoy Hotel is a luxury hotel A hotel is an establishment that provides paid lodging Lodging refers to the use of a short-term dwelling In law, a dwelling (also known as a residence or an abode) is a self-contained unit o ...

Savoy Hotel
was built). On the day of his death (12 August 1827), Blake worked relentlessly on his Dante series. Eventually, it is reported, he ceased working and turned to his wife, who was in tears by his bedside. Beholding her, Blake is said to have cried, "Stay Kate! Keep just as you are – I will draw your portrait – for you have ever been an angel to me." Having completed this portrait (now lost), Blake laid down his tools and began to sing hymns and verses. At six that evening, after promising his wife that he would be with her always, Blake died. Gilchrist reports that a female lodger in the house, present at his expiration, said, "I have been at the death, not of a man, but of a blessed angel." George Richmond gives the following account of Blake's death in a letter to
Samuel Palmer Samuel Palmer Hon.RE (Hon. Fellow of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, Society of Painter-Etchers) (27 January 180524 May 1881) was a British Landscape art, landscape painter, etcher and printmaker. He was also a prolific writer. Palmer ...

Samuel Palmer
: Catherine paid for Blake's funeral with money lent to her by Linnell. Blake's body was buried in a plot shared with others, five days after his death – on the eve of his 45th wedding anniversary – at the
Dissenter A dissenter (from the Latin ''dissentire'', "to disagree") is one who dissent Sticker art arguing that dissent is necessary for democracy.">democracy.html" ;"title="Sticker art arguing that dissent is necessary for democracy">Sticker art arguin ...
's burial ground in
Bunhill Fields Bunhill Fields is a former burial ground in central London, in the London Borough of Islington, just north of the City of London. What remains is about in extent and the bulk of the site is a public garden upkept by the City of London Corpora ...
, in what is today the
London Borough of Islington The London Borough of Islington ( ) is a London boroughs, London borough in Inner London. The borough includes a significant area to the south which forms part of central London. Islington has an estimated population of 215,667. It was formed in ...
. His parents' bodies were buried in the same graveyard. Present at the ceremonies were Catherine, Edward Calvert, George Richmond,
Frederick Tatham Frederick Tatham (31 July 1805 – 29 July 1878) was an English artist who was a member of the ancients (art group), Shoreham Ancients, a group of followers of William Blake. The son of Charles Heathcote Tatham, an architect, Tatham and his br ...
and John Linnell. Following Blake's death, Catherine moved into Tatham's house as a housekeeper. She believed she was regularly visited by Blake's spirit. She continued selling his illuminated works and paintings, but entertained no business transaction without first "consulting Mr. Blake". On the day of her death, in October 1831, she was as calm and cheerful as her husband, and called out to him "as if he were only in the next room, to say she was coming to him, and it would not be long now". On her death, longtime acquaintance Frederick Tatham took possession of Blake's works and continued selling them. Tatham later joined the fundamentalist
Irvingite The Catholic Apostolic Church (CAC), also known as the Irvingian Church, is a Christian denomination which originated in Scotland around 1831 and later spread to Germany and the United States.
church and under the influence of conservative members of that church burned manuscripts that he deemed heretical. The exact number of destroyed manuscripts is unknown, but shortly before his death Blake told a friend he had written "twenty tragedies as long as ''
Macbeth ''Macbeth'' (, full title ''The Tragedie of Macbeth'') is a Shakespearean tragedy, tragedy by William Shakespeare. It is thought to have been first performed in 1606 in literature, 1606. It dramatises the damaging physical and psychological ...

Macbeth
''", none of which survive. Another acquaintance, William Michael Rossetti, also burned works by Blake that he considered lacking in quality, and John Linnell erased sexual imagery from a number of Blake's drawings. At the same time, some works not intended for publication were preserved by friends, such as his notebook and ''
An Island in the Moon ''An Island in the Moon'' is the name generally assigned to an untitled, unfinished prose satire by William Blake, written in late 1784. Containing early versions of three poems later included in ''Songs of Innocence and of Experience, Songs of ...
''. Blake's grave is commemorated by two stones. The first was a stone that reads "Near by lie the remains of the poet-painter William Blake 1757–1827 and his wife Catherine Sophia 1762–1831". The memorial stone is situated approximately away from the actual grave, which was not marked until 12 August 2018. For years since 1965, the exact location of William Blake's grave had been lost and forgotten. The area had been damaged in the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
; gravestones were removed and a garden was created. The memorial stone, indicating that the burial sites are "nearby", was listed as a Grade II listed structure in 2011. A Portuguese couple, Carol and Luís Garrido, rediscovered the exact burial location after 14 years of investigatory work, and the Blake Society organised a permanent memorial slab, which was unveiled at a public ceremony at the site on 12 August 2018. The new stone is inscribed "Here lies William Blake 1757–1827 Poet Artist Prophet" above a verse from his poem ''Jerusalem''. The
Blake Prize for Religious Art The Blake Prize is an List of Australian art awards, Australian art prize awarded for religious art; in existence since 1951. The Prize was awarded annually from 1951 to 2015, and from 2016 has been awarded biennially. The prize was established ...
was established in his honour in Australia in 1949. In 1957 a memorial to Blake and his wife was erected in Westminster Abbey. Another memorial lies in
St James's Church, Piccadilly St JamesSaint James or St. James may refer to: People Saints *James, brother of Jesus (died 62 or 69), also known as James the Just *James the Great (died 44), Apostle, also known as James, son of Zebedee, or Saint James the Greater **Saint Ja ...
, where he was baptised. At the time of Blake's death, he had sold fewer than 30 copies of ''Songs of Innocence and of Experience.''


Opinions


Politics

Blake was not active in any well-established political party. His poetry consistently embodies an attitude of rebellion against the abuse of class power as documented in David Erdman's major study '' Blake: Prophet Against Empire: A Poet's Interpretation of the History of His Own Times''. Blake was concerned about senseless wars and the blighting effects of the
Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...
. Much of his poetry recounts in symbolic allegory the effects of the French and American revolutions. Erdman claims Blake was disillusioned with the political outcomes of the conflicts, believing they had simply replaced monarchy with irresponsible mercantilism. Erdman also notes Blake was deeply opposed to slavery and believes some of his poems, read primarily as championing "free love", had their anti-slavery implications short-changed. A more recent study, ''William Blake: Visionary Anarchist'' by Peter Marshall (1988), classified Blake and his contemporary
William Godwin William Godwin (3 March 1756 – 7 April 1836) was an English journalist, political philosophy, political philosopher and novelist. He is considered one of the first exponents of utilitarianism and the first modern proponent of anarchism. God ...
as Precursors to anarchism, forerunners of modern anarchism. British Marxism, Marxist historian E. P. Thompson's last finished work, ''Witness Against the Beast, Witness Against the Beast: William Blake and the Moral Law'' (1993), claims to show how far he was inspired by English Dissenters, dissident religious ideas rooted in the thinking of the most radical opponents of the monarchy during the English Civil War.


Development of Views

Because Blake's later poetry contains a private mythology with complex symbolism, his late work has been less published than his earlier more accessible work. The Vintage Press, Vintage anthology of Blake edited by Patti Smith focuses heavily on the earlier work, as do many critical studies such as ''William Blake'' by D. G. Gillham. The earlier work is primarily rebellious in character and can be seen as a protest against dogmatic religion especially notable in ''The Marriage of Heaven and Hell'', in which the figure represented by the "Devil" is virtually a hero rebelling against an imposter authoritarian deity. In later works, such as ''Milton'' and ''Jerusalem'', Blake carves a distinctive vision of a humanity redeemed by self-sacrifice and forgiveness, while retaining his earlier negative attitude towards what he felt was the rigid and morbid authoritarianism of traditional religion. Not all readers of Blake agree upon how much continuity exists between Blake's earlier and later works. Psychoanalyst June Singer has written that Blake's late work displayed a development of the ideas first introduced in his earlier works, namely, the humanitarian goal of achieving personal wholeness of body and spirit. The final section of the expanded edition of her Blake study ''The Unholy Bible'' suggests the later works are the "Bible of Hell" promised in ''The Marriage of Heaven and Hell''. Regarding Blake's final poem, ''Jerusalem'', she writes: "The promise of the divine in man, made in ''The Marriage of Heaven and Hell'', is at last fulfilled." John Middleton Murry notes discontinuity between ''Marriage'' and the late works, in that while the early Blake focused on a "sheer negative opposition between Energy and Reason", the later Blake emphasised the notions of self-sacrifice and forgiveness as the road to interior wholeness. This renunciation of the sharper dualism of ''Marriage of Heaven and Hell'' is evidenced in particular by the humanisation of the character of Urizen in the later works. Murry characterises the later Blake as having found "mutual understanding" and "mutual forgiveness".


Religious views

Although Blake's attacks on conventional religion were shocking in his own day, his rejection of religiosity was not a rejection of religion ''per se''. His view of orthodoxy is evident in ''The Marriage of Heaven and Hell''. Therein, Blake lists several ''Proverbs of Hell'', among which are the following: * Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion. * As the chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs on, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys. (8.21, 9.55, E36) In ''The Everlasting Gospel'', Blake does not present Jesus as a philosopher or traditional messianic figure, but as a supremely creative being, above dogma, logic and even morality:
If he had been Antichrist Creeping Jesus, He'd have done anything to please us: Gone sneaking into Synagogues And not us'd the Elders & Priests like Dogs, But humble as a Lamb or Ass, Obey'd himself to Caiaphas. God wants not Man to Humble himself (55–61, E519–20)
For Blake, Jesus symbolises the vital relationship and unity between divinity and humanity: "All had originally one language, and one religion: this was the religion of Jesus, the everlasting Gospel. Antiquity preaches the Gospel of Jesus." ('' Descriptive Catalogue'', Plate 39, E543) Blake designed William Blake's mythology, his own mythology, which appears largely in his
prophetic books The prophetic books are a division of the Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ ...
. Within these he describes a number of characters, including "Urizen", "Enitharmon", "Bromion" and "Luvah". His mythology seems to have a basis in the Bible as well as Greek and Norse mythology, and it accompanies his ideas about the everlasting Gospel. One of Blake's strongest objections to orthodox Christianity is that he felt it encouraged the suppression of natural desires and discouraged earthly joy. In ''A Vision of the Last Judgement'', Blake says that: His words concerning religion in ''The Marriage of Heaven and Hell'':
All Bibles or sacred codes have been the causes of the following Errors. :1. That Man has two real existing principles Viz: a Body & a Soul. :2. That Energy, called Evil, is alone from the Body, & that Reason, called Good, is alone from the Soul. :3. That God will torment Man in Eternity for following his Energies. But the following Contraries to these are True :1. :2. Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy. :3. Energy is Eternal Delight. (Plate 4, E34)
Blake does not subscribe to the notion of a body distinct from the soul that must submit to the rule of the soul, but sees the body as an extension of the soul, derived from the "discernment" of the senses. Thus, the emphasis orthodoxy places upon the denial of bodily urges is a dualistic error born of misapprehension of the relationship between body and soul. Elsewhere, he describes Satan as the "state of error", and as beyond salvation. Blake opposed the Sophism, sophistry of theology, theological thought that excuses pain, admits evil and apologises for injustice. He abhorred self-denial, which he associated with religious repression and particularly sexual repression:
Prudence is a rich ugly old maid courted by Incapacity. He who desires but acts not breeds wikt:pestilence, pestilence. (7.4–5, E35)
He saw the concept of "sin" as a trap to bind men's desires (the briars of ''Garden of Love''), and believed that restraint in obedience to a moral code imposed from the outside was against the spirit of life:
Abstinence sows sand all over The ruddy limbs & flaming hair But Desire Gratified Plants fruits & beauty there. (E474)
He did not hold with the God the Father#Christianity, doctrine of God as Lord, an entity separate from and superior to mankind; this is shown clearly in his words about Jesus Christ: "He is the only God ... and so am I, and so are you." A telling phrase in ''The Marriage of Heaven and Hell'' is "men forgot that All deities reside in the human breast".


Enlightenment philosophy

Blake had a complex relationship with Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment philosophy. His championing of the imagination as the most important element of human existence ran contrary to Enlightenment ideals of rationalism and empiricism. Due to his visionary religious beliefs, he opposed the Isaac Newton#Effect on religious thought, Newtonian view of the universe. This mindset is reflected in an excerpt from Blake's ''
Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس, ', , (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names); grc, Ἱερουσαλήμ/Ἰεροσόλυμα, Hierousalḗm/Hierosóluma; hy, Երուսաղեմ, Erusał ...
'':
I turn my eyes to the Schools & Universities of Europe And there behold the Loom of Locke whose Woof rages dire Washd by the Water-wheels of Newton. black the cloth In heavy wreathes folds over every Nation; cruel Works Of many Wheels I view, wheel without wheel, with cogs tyrannic Moving by compulsion each other: not as those in Eden: which Wheel within Wheel in freedom revolve in harmony & peace. (15.14–20, E159)
Blake believed the paintings of
Sir Joshua Reynolds Sir Joshua Reynolds (16 July 1723 – 23 February 1792) was an English painter, specialising in Portrait, portraits. John Russell (art critic), John Russell said he was one of the major European painters of the 18th century. He promoted the Gra ...

Sir Joshua Reynolds
, which depict the naturalistic fall of light upon objects, were products entirely of the "vegetative eye", and he saw Locke and Newton as "the true progenitors of Sir Joshua Reynolds' aesthetic". The popular taste in the England of that time for such paintings was satisfied with
mezzotint Mezzotint is a monochrome printmaking process of the ''intaglio (printmaking), intaglio'' family. It was the first printing process that yielded half-tones without using line- or dot-based techniques like hatching, cross-hatching or stipple. Mezz ...
s, prints produced by a process that created an image from thousands of tiny dots upon the page. Blake saw an analogy between this and Newton's particle theory of light. Accordingly, Blake never used the technique, opting rather to develop a method of engraving purely in fluid line, insisting that: It has been supposed that, despite his opposition to Enlightenment principles, Blake arrived at a linear aesthetic that was in many ways more similar to the Neoclassicism, Neoclassical engravings of John Flaxman than to the works of the Romantics, with whom he is often classified. However, Blake's relationship with Flaxman seems to have grown more distant after Blake's return from Felpham, and there are surviving letters between Flaxman and Hayley wherein Flaxman speaks ill of Blake's theories of art. Blake further criticized Flaxman's styles and theories of art in his responses to criticism made against his print of Chaucer's Caunterbury Pilgrims in 1810.


Sexuality


"Free Love"

Since his death, William Blake has been claimed by those of various movements who apply his complex and often elusive use of symbolism and allegory to the issues that concern them. In particular, Blake is sometimes considered (along with
Mary Wollstonecraft Mary Wollstonecraft (, ; 27 April 1759 – 10 September 1797) was an English writer, philosopher, and advocate of women's rights. Until the late 20th century, Wollstonecraft's life, which encompassed several unconventional personal rela ...

Mary Wollstonecraft
and her husband
William Godwin William Godwin (3 March 1756 – 7 April 1836) was an English journalist, political philosophy, political philosopher and novelist. He is considered one of the first exponents of utilitarianism and the first modern proponent of anarchism. God ...
) a forerunner of the 19th-century "free love" movement, a broad reform tradition starting in the 1820s that held that marriage is slavery, and advocated the removal of all state restrictions on sexual activity such as homosexuality, prostitution, and adultery, culminating in the birth control movement of the early 20th century. Blake scholarship was more focused on this theme in the earlier 20th century than today, although it is still mentioned notably by the Blake scholar Magnus Ankarsjö who moderately challenges this interpretation. The 19th-century "free love" movement was not particularly focused on the idea of multiple partners, but did agree with Wollstonecraft that state-sanctioned marriage was "legal prostitution" and monopolistic in character. It has somewhat more in common with early feminist movements (particularly with regard to the writings of Mary Wollstonecraft, whom Blake admired). Blake was critical of the marriage laws of his day, and generally railed against traditional Christian notions of chastity as a virtue. At a time of tremendous strain in his marriage, in part due to Catherine's apparent inability to bear children, he directly advocated bringing a second wife into the house. His poetry suggests that external demands for marital fidelity reduce love to mere duty rather than authentic affection, and decries jealousy and egotism as a motive for marriage laws. Poems such as "Why should I be bound to thee, O my lovely Myrtle-tree?" and "Earth's Answer" seem to advocate multiple sexual partners. In his poem "London (William Blake poem), London" he speaks of "the Marriage-Hearse" plagued by "the youthful Harlot's curse", the result alternately of false Prudence and/or Harlotry. ''Visions of the Daughters of Albion'' is widely (though not universally) read as a tribute to free love since the relationship between Bromion and Oothoon is held together only by laws and not by love. For Blake, law and love are opposed, and he castigates the "frozen marriage-bed". In ''Visions'', Blake writes:
Till she who burns with youth, and knows no fixed lot, is bound In spells of law to one she loathes? and must she drag the chain Of life in weary lust? (5.21-3, E49)
In the 19th century, poet and free love advocate Algernon Charles Swinburne wrote a book on Blake drawing attention to the above motifs in which Blake praises "sacred natural love" that is not bound by another's possessive jealousy, the latter characterised by Blake as a "creeping skeleton". Swinburne notes how Blake's ''Marriage of Heaven and Hell'' condemns the hypocrisy of the "pale religious letchery" of advocates of traditional norms. Another 19th-century free love advocate, Edward Carpenter (1844–1929), was influenced by Blake's mystical emphasis on energy free from external restrictions. In the early 20th century, Pierre Berger described how Blake's views echo Mary Wollstonecraft's celebration of joyful authentic love rather than love born of duty, the former being the true measure of purity. Irene Langridge notes that "in Blake's mysterious and unorthodox creed the doctrine of free love was something Blake wanted for the edification of 'the soul'." Michael Davis's 1977 book ''William Blake a New Kind of Man'' suggests that Blake thought jealousy separates man from the divine unity, condemning him to a frozen death. As a theological writer, Blake has a sense of human "Fall of man, fallenness". S. Foster Damon noted that for Blake the major impediments to a free love society were corrupt human nature, not merely the intolerance of society and the jealousy of men, but the inauthentic hypocritical nature of human communication. Thomas Wright's 1928 book ''Life of William Blake'' (entirely devoted to Blake's doctrine of free love) notes that Blake thinks marriage should ''in practice'' afford the joy of love, but notes that in reality it often does not, as a couple's knowledge of being chained often diminishes their joy. Pierre Berger also analyses Blake's early mythological poems such as ''Ahania'' as declaring marriage laws to be a consequence of the fallenness of humanity, as these are born from pride and jealousy. Some scholars have noted that Blake's views on "free love" are both qualified and may have undergone shifts and modifications in his late years. Some poems from this period warn of dangers of predatory sexuality such as ''The Sick Rose''. Magnus Ankarsjö notes that while the hero of ''Visions of the Daughters of Albion'' is a strong advocate of free love, by the end of the poem she has become more circumspect as her awareness of the dark side of sexuality has grown, crying "Can this be love which drinks another as a sponge drinks water?" Ankarsjö also notes that a major inspiration to Blake, Mary Wollstonecraft, similarly developed more circumspect views of sexual freedom late in life. In light of Blake's aforementioned sense of human 'fallenness' Ankarsjö thinks Blake does ''not'' fully approve of sensual indulgence merely in defiance of law as exemplified by the female character of Leutha, since in the fallen world of experience all love is enchained. Ankarsjö records Blake as having supported a commune with some sharing of partners, though David Worrall read ''The Book of Thel'' as a rejection of the proposal to take concubines espoused by some members of the Swedenborgian church. Blake's later writings show a renewed interest in Christianity, and although he radically reinterprets Christian morality in a way that embraces sensual pleasure, there is little of the emphasis on sexual libertarianism found in several of his early poems, and there is advocacy of "self-denial", though such abnegation must be inspired by love rather than through authoritarian compulsion. Berger (more so than Swinburne) is especially sensitive to a shift in sensibility between the early Blake and the later Blake. Berger believes the young Blake placed too much emphasis on following impulses, and that the older Blake had a better formed ideal of a true love that sacrifices self. Some celebration of mystical sensuality remains in the late poems (most notably in Blake's denial of the virginity of Jesus's mother). However, the late poems also place a greater emphasis on forgiveness, redemption, and emotional authenticity as a foundation for relationships.


Legacy


Creativity

Northrop Frye Herman Northrop Frye (July 14, 1912 – January 23, 1991) was a Canadian literary critic Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often influenced ...

Northrop Frye
, commenting on Blake's consistency in strongly held views, notes Blake "himself says that his notes on [Joshua] Reynolds, written at fifty, are 'exactly Similar' to those on Locke and Bacon, written when he was 'very Young'. Even phrases and lines of verse will reappear as much as forty years later. Consistency in maintaining what he believed to be true was itself one of his leading principles ... Consistency, then, foolish or otherwise, is one of Blake's chief preoccupations, just as 'self-contradiction' is always one of his most contemptuous comments".
Northrop Frye Herman Northrop Frye (July 14, 1912 – January 23, 1991) was a Canadian literary critic Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often influenced ...

Northrop Frye
, ''Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake'', 1947, Princeton University Press
Blake abhorred slavery and believed in racial and sexual equality. Several of his poems and paintings express a notion of universal humanity: "As all men are alike (tho' infinitely various)". In one poem, narrated by a black child, white and black bodies alike are described as shaded groves or clouds, which exist only until one learns "to bear the beams of love":
When I from black and he from white cloud free, And round the tent of God like lambs we joy: Ill shade him from the heat till he can bear, To lean in joy upon our fathers knee. And then I'll stand and stroke his silver hair, And be like him and he will then love me. (23-8, E9)
Blake retained an active interest in social and political events throughout his life, and social and political statements are often present in his mystical symbolism. His views on what he saw as oppression and restriction of rightful freedom extended to the Church. His spiritual beliefs are evident in ''Songs of Experience'' (1794), in which he distinguishes between the Old Testament God, whose restrictions he rejected, and the New Testament God whom he saw as a positive influence.


Visions

From a young age, William Blake claimed to have seen visions. The first may have occurred as early as the age of four when, according to one anecdote, the young artist "saw God" when God "put his head to the window", causing Blake to break into screaming.Bentley, Gerald Eades and Bentley Jr., G. ''William Blake: The Critical Heritage''. 1995, pp. 36–7. At the age of eight or ten in Peckham Rye, London, Blake claimed to have seen "a tree filled with angels, bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars." According to Blake's Victorian biographer Gilchrist, he returned home and reported the vision and only escaped being thrashed by his father for telling a lie through the intervention of his mother. Though all evidence suggests that his parents were largely supportive, his mother seems to have been especially so, and several of Blake's early drawings and poems decorated the walls of her chamber. On another occasion, Blake watched haymakers at work, and thought he saw angelic figures walking among them. Blake claimed to experience visions throughout his life. They were often associated with beautiful religious themes and imagery, and may have inspired him further with spiritual works and pursuits. Certainly, religious concepts and imagery figure centrally in Blake's works. God and Christianity constituted the intellectual centre of his writings, from which he drew inspiration. Blake believed he was personally instructed and encouraged by Archangels to create his artistic works, which he claimed were actively read and enjoyed by the same Archangels. In a letter of condolence to
William Hayley William Hayley (9 November 174512 November 1820) was an English writer, best known as the biographer of his friend William Cowper. Biography Born at Chichester, he was sent to Eton College, Eton in 1757, and to Trinity Hall, Cambridge, in 1762 ...

William Hayley
, dated 6 May 1800, four days after the death of Hayley's son, Blake wrote: In a letter to John Flaxman, dated 21 September 1800, Blake wrote: In a letter to Thomas Butts, dated 25 April 1803, Blake wrote: In ''A Vision of the Last Judgement'' Blake wrote: Despite seeing angels and God, Blake has also claimed to see Satan on the staircase of his South Molton Street home in London. Aware of Blake's visions,
William Wordsworth William Wordsworth (7 April 177023 April 1850) was an English Romantic Romantic may refer to: Genres and eras * The Romantic era, an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement of the 18th and 19th centuries ** Romantic music, of ...

William Wordsworth
commented, "There was no doubt that this poor man was mad, but there is something in the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott." In a more deferential vein, John William Cousins wrote in ''A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature'' that Blake was "a truly pious and loving soul, neglected and misunderstood by the world, but appreciated by an elect few", who "led a cheerful and contented life of poverty illumined by visions and celestial inspirations". Blake's sanity was called into question as recently as the publication of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, 1911 ''Encyclopædia Britannica'', whose entry on Blake comments that "the question whether Blake was or was not mad seems likely to remain in dispute, but there can be no doubt whatever that he was at different periods of his life under the influence of illusions for which there are no outward facts to account, and that much of what he wrote is so far wanting in the quality of sanity as to be without a logical coherence".


Cultural influence

Blake's work was neglected for a generation after his death and almost forgotten by the time
Alexander Gilchrist Alexander Gilchrist (182830 November 1861), an English author, is known mainly as a biographer of William Etty and of William Blake William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unre ...
began work on his biography in the 1860s. The publication of the ''Life of William Blake'' rapidly transformed Blake's reputation, in particular as he was taken up by Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Pre-Raphaelites and associated figures, in particular Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Algernon Charles Swinburne. In the 20th century, however, Blake's work was fully appreciated and his influence increased. Important early and mid-20th-century scholars involved in enhancing Blake's standing in literary and artistic circles included S. Foster Damon, Geoffrey Keynes,
Northrop Frye Herman Northrop Frye (July 14, 1912 – January 23, 1991) was a Canadian literary critic Literary criticism (or literary studies) is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often influenced ...

Northrop Frye
, David V. Erdman and G. E. Bentley Jr. While Blake had a significant role in the art and poetry of figures such as Rossetti, it was during the Modernist period that this work began to influence a wider set of writers and artists. William Butler Yeats, who edited an edition of Blake's collected works in 1893, drew on him for poetic and philosophical ideas, while British surrealist art in particular drew on Blake's conceptions of non-mimetic, visionary practice in the painting of artists such as Paul Nash (artist), Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland. His poetry came into use by a number of British classical composers such as Benjamin Britten and Ralph Vaughan Williams, who set his works. Modern British composer John Tavener set several of Blake's poems, including ''The Lamb'' (as the 1982 work "The Lamb (Tavener), The Lamb") and ''The Tyger''. Many such as June Singer have argued that Blake's thoughts on human nature greatly anticipate and parallel the thinking of the psychoanalyst Carl Jung. In Jung's own words: "Blake [is] a tantalizing study, since he compiled a lot of half or undigested knowledge in his fantasies. According to my ideas they are an artistic production rather than an authentic representation of unconscious processes." Similarly, Diana Hume George claimed that Blake can be seen as a precursor to the ideas of Sigmund Freud. Blake had an enormous influence on the Beat Generation, beat poets of the 1950s and the counterculture of the 1960s, frequently being cited by such seminal figures as beat poet Allen Ginsberg, songwriters Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison, Van Morrison, and English writer Aldous Huxley. Much of the central conceit of Philip Pullman's fantasy trilogy ''His Dark Materials'' is rooted in the world of Blake's ''The Marriage of Heaven and Hell''. Canadian music composer Kathleen Yearwood is one of many contemporary musicians that have set Blake's poems to music. After World War II, Blake's role in popular culture came to the fore in a variety of areas such as popular music, film, and the graphic novel, leading Edward Larrissy to assert that "Blake is the Romantic writer who has exerted the most powerful influence on the twentieth century."


Exhibitions

Major recent exhibitions focusing on William Blake include: * The Ashmolean Museum's (Oxford) exhibition ''William Blake: Apprentice and Master'', open from December 2014 until March 2015, examined William Blake's formation as an artist, as well as his influence on young artist-printmakers who gathered around him in the last years of his life. * The National Gallery of Victoria's exhibition ''William Blake'' in summer 2014 showcased the Gallery's collection of works by William Blake which includes spectacular watercolours, single prints and illustrated books. * The Morgan Library & Museum exhibition ''William Blake's World: "A New Heaven Is Begun"'', open from September 2009 until January 2010, included more than 100 watercolours, prints, and illuminated books of poetry. * An exhibition at Tate Britain in 2007–2008, ''William Blake'', coincided with the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of William Blake's birth and included Blake works from the Gallery's permanent collection, but also private loans of recently discovered works which had never before been exhibited. * The Scottish National Gallery 2007 exhibition ''William Blake'' coincided with the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of William Blake's birth and featured all of the Gallery's works associated with Blake. * An exhibition at Tate Britain in 2000–2001, ''William Blake'', displayed the full range of William Blake's art and poetry, together with contextual materials, arranged in four sections: One of the Gothic Artists; The Furnace of Lambeth's Vale; Chambers of the Imagination; Many Formidable Works. * In 2016 the world's first William Blake antique bookstore and art gallery opened in San Francisco as a satellite of the Bay area John Windle (bookseller), John Windle Antiquarian Bookseller. * A major exhibition on Blake at Tate Britain in London opened in the autumn of 2019.


Bibliography


Illuminated books

* ''
Songs of Innocence and of Experience ''Songs of Innocence and of Experience'' is a collection of illustrated poems by William Blake. It appeared in two phases: a few first copies were printed and Illuminated manuscript, illuminated by Blake himself in 1789; five years later he bou ...
'' (edited 1794) ** ''Songs of Innocence'' (edited 1789) * ''
The Book of Thel Image:The Book of Thel.jpg, William Blake: ''The Book of Thel'', copy O, plate 1. Copy O, in the collection of the Library of Congress, is one of the two 1815-18 printings of ''Thel''; the other is Copy N, in the collection of the Cincinnati Art Mus ...

The Book of Thel
''* (written 1788–1790, edited 1789–1793) * ''
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell ''The Marriage of Heaven and Hell'' is a book by the English poet and printmaker William Blake. It is a series of texts written in imitation of Bible prophecy, biblical prophecy but expressing Blake's own intensely personal Romanticism, Romanti ...
'' (written 1790–1793) * ''
Visions of the Daughters of Albion ''Visions of the Daughters of Albion'' is a 1793 poem by William Blake, produced as a book with his own illustrations. It is a short and early example of his William Blake's prophetic books, prophetic books, and a sequel of sorts to ''The Book of Th ...
''* (edited 1793) * ''Continental prophecies''* ** ''America a Prophecy'' (edited 1793) ** ''Europe a Prophecy'' (edited 1794–1821) ** ''The Song of Los'' (edited 1795) * ''There is No Natural Religion'' (written 1788, possible edited 1794–1795) * ''The First Book of Urizen''* (edited 1794–1818) * ''All Religions are One'' (written 1788, possible edited 1795) * ''The Book of Los''* (edited 1795) * ''The Book of Ahania''* (edited 1795) * '' Milton''* (written 1804–1810) * ''Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion''* (written 1804–1820 additions even later, edited 1820–1827 and 1832)


Non-illuminated

* ''
Poetical Sketches ''Poetical Sketches'' is the first collection of poetry and prose by William Blake, written between 1769 and 1777. Forty copies were printed in 1783 with the help of Blake's friends, the artist John Flaxman and the Reverend Anthony Stephen Mathe ...
'' (written 1769–1777, edited 1783 and 1868 as a volume) * ''
An Island in the Moon ''An Island in the Moon'' is the name generally assigned to an untitled, unfinished prose satire by William Blake, written in late 1784. Containing early versions of three poems later included in ''Songs of Innocence and of Experience, Songs of ...
'' (written 1784, unfinished) * ''The French Revolution (poem), The French Revolution'' (edited 1791) * ''A Song of Liberty'' (edited 1792, published in ''The Marriage of Heaven and Hell'') * ''Vala, or The Four Zoas''* (written 1797–1807, unfinished) * ''Tiriel (poem), Tiriel''* (written , edited 1874) ''The works with'' * ''constitute the
prophetic books The prophetic books are a division of the Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ ...
.''


Illustrated by Blake

*
Mary Wollstonecraft Mary Wollstonecraft (, ; 27 April 1759 – 10 September 1797) was an English writer, philosopher, and advocate of women's rights. Until the late 20th century, Wollstonecraft's life, which encompassed several unconventional personal rela ...

Mary Wollstonecraft
, ''
Original Stories from Real Life ''Original Stories from Real Life; with Conversations Calculated to Regulate the Affections, and Form the Mind to Truth and Goodness'' is the only complete work of children's literature by the 18th-century English Feminism, feminist author Mary ...
'' (1791) * John Gay, ''Fables by John Gay with a Life of the Author'', John Stockdale, Picadilly (1793) * Gottfried August Bürger, ''Lenore (ballad), Leonora'' (not engraved by him)Wilson, Mona. ''The Life of William Blake'', 1948, London: Rupert Hart-Davis, p. 77. (1796) * Edward Young, ''Night-Thoughts'' (1797) * Thomas Gray, ''Poems'' (1798) * Robert Blair (poet), Robert Blair, ''The Grave (poem), The Grave'' (1805–1808) * John Milton, ''Paradise Lost'' (1808) * John Varley (painter), John Varley, ''Visionary Heads'' (1819–1820) * Robert John Thornton, ''Virgil'' (1821) * ''William Blake's Illustrations of the Book of Job, The Book of Job'' (1823–1826) * John Bunyan, ''The Pilgrim's Progress'' (1824–1827, unfinished) *
Dante Dante Alighieri (), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to Mononymous person, simply as Dante (, also ; – 14 September 1321), was an Italian Italian poetry, poet, writer and philosopher. His ''Divine Co ...

Dante
, ''
Divine Comedy The ''Divine Comedy'' ( it, Divina Commedia ) is an Italian narrative poem Narrative poetry is a form of poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek language, Greek ''poiesis'', "making") is a form of literature that uses aesthetics, aes ...

Divine Comedy
'' (1825–1827). Blake died in 1827 with work on these illustrations still unfinished. Of the 102 watercolours, 7 had been selected for engraving.


On Blake


References


Further reading

*


External links


Blake Society



William Blake
at the British Library
William Blake Poems Arts & Experience Library


Profiles


Profile at the Academy of American Poets

Profile at the Poetry Foundation

BBC etching gallery


Archives


The William Blake Archive
– A Comprehensive Academic Archive of Blake's works with scans from multiple collections * * Single Institution Holdings:
The G. E. Bentley: William Blake Collection
Special Collections , Victoria University Library in the University of Toronto
The G. E. Bentley: William Blake Collection
Digital Collections , Victoria University Library in the University of Toronto
William Blake collection
at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin
''William Blake Digital Material''
From th
Rare Book and Special Collections Division
at the Library of Congress **hdl:10079/fa/beinecke.blake, William Blake Collection. General Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Digital editions and research
Project Gutenberg - works by Blake downloadable
* *
Settings of William Blake's poetry
in the Choral Public Domain Library {{DEFAULTSORT:Blake, William William Blake, 1757 births 1827 deaths 18th-century Christian mystics 19th-century Christian mystics Angelic visionaries Artist authors Artists of the Moravian Church Burials at Bunhill Fields Christian abolitionists Christian poets Christian radicals Critics of religions Death of God theologians English abolitionists English feminist writers English male poets English republicans English romantic painters English watercolourists English printmakers English Christian theologians English Dissenters English Swedenborgians Epic poets Free love advocates Male feminists Mythopoeic writers Prophets Protestant mystics People from Felpham People from Soho Proto-anarchists Writers who illustrated their own writing