William Blake

William Blake (1757-1827) is considered one of the most prominent artists in British cultural history.  His continuing relevance is clear above all through his influence on contemporary popular culture, which extends far beyond the anglophone world. His revolutionary multimedia work, which interweaves words and images, has been assimilated and celebrated by a vast number of writers, visual artists, and musicians. Whilst illuminating the burning issues of 18th and early 19th century England, Blake’s visionary and provocative oeuvre resonates deeply with the concerns and uncertainties of our times and encapsulates the universal qualities of the greatest works of Art.

William Blake - watercolour from portrait by Thomas Phillips

Blake was born and raised in London, where the toxic fumes of factories merged with the sweet scents of nearby green fields, creating the perfect atmosphere for his uncanny imagination. Blake only left London briefly, for a 3-year sojourn in Felpham, a coastal village in West Sussex. In 1800 he and his wife Catherine moved to a beautiful cottage overlooking the sea, which stimulated the prophetic and sublime visions found in his later work. 

Whilst he lived in the cottage, he wrote the majority of the poems found in the Pickering Manuscript, including Auguries of Innocence. He also revised his unfinished book Vala, or The Four Zoas and started writing his last prophecies Milton and Jerusalem the Emanation of the Giant Albion. It’s believed that his famous lines turned into a hymn by Hubert Parry “and did those feet in ancient time” were also conceived in the Blakes’ most beloved residence.

His writings and designs are available at https://www.blakearchive.org/

Camila Oliveira