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2 September 2014
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William Blake

Although Blake struggled to make a living from his work during his lifetime his influence and ideas are possibly the strongest of all the Romantic poets.

William Blake - Fact File

  • Born - 1757
  • Starts at the Royal Academy - 1779
  • Marries Catherine Boucher - 1782
  • Publishes Songs of Innocence - 1789
  • Died - 1827

William Blake

William Blake's significance in the Romantic movement came late in the 19th century, after what is officially considered the Romantic period. Born 1757 in London, his recognition as an artist and poet of worth began when Blake was in his sixties.

Blake's early childhood was dominated by spiritual visions which influenced his personal and working life. A passionate believer in liberty and freedom for all, especially for women, he courted controversy with his views on Church and state.

After following a traditional artistic career as an apprentice engraver he attended the Royal Academy, but he did not take well to the 'stifling' atmosphere and clashed with the ideals of the Academy's founding members, especially Sir Joshua Reynolds.

In 1782 Blake married Catherine Boucher, an inseparable companion he taught to read, write and draw and would aid him in the production of his work.

After leaving the Academy he set himself up as an engraver and illustrator, publishing his own work. His first book, Poetical Sketches, was published in 1783. From then on he published everything himself. He produced his most famous works, Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794), by engraving both words and pictures on the same plate, his lasting style.

Although Blake struggled to make a living from his work during his lifetime his influence and ideas are possibly the strongest of all the Romantic poets.

Image: National Portrait Gallery, London

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