William Blake (1757 – 1827)

William Blake is one of the most famous English poets, painters, and print-makers of the Romantic Age.

Blake was taught at home by his father, and learned engraving and an appreciation for classical Greek art as created by Raphael, Michelangelo, and Dürer. He completed his schooling with Henry Par, and a long apprenticeship with Basire, who taught him a love for the Gothic cathedrals of London. He was on his own by age 21, and began his own career as an engraver.

Blake and his wife Catherine were wed in 1782 at age 25. He taught his wife how to read and write, as well as teaching her engraving skills. Together, they published a book of Blake’s Poems and drawings called

His rather revolutionary ideas caused him to have regular trouble with authority, and he was put on trial for sedition in 1803. During a fight with a drunken soldier, Blake was claimed to have said “Damn the king. The soldiers are all slaves." These charges were later cleared.

As evidenced by his scope of creations, Blake was an imaginative and spiritual man, and he experienced visions his whole life. The impact of these visions can be seen throughout his body of work, and because of the importance he ascribed to his creations, he only accepted work assignations that he appreciated and enjoyed. Simple work for financial gain only seemed to make him miserable.

While that deliberate manner may have allowed him to pour himself into his work to great effect, it also meant that money was not easy to come by. William Blake died in poverty in 1827, and was buried in an unmarked grave in Bunhill Fields, London.

Upon his wife Catherine's death in 1831, much of Blake's "heretical" and overly political works were burned by a fundamentalist Irvingite named Frederick Tatham who inherited them.

You can read a more in-depth profile of William Blake on our blog, Bibliology by clicking HERE.

Books by William Blake