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English Literature

Context

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To put Blake's The Little Boy Lost and The Little Boy Found into context, you will need to know a bit about the author and his work - particularly Songs of Innocence and Experience, from which these poems are taken.

William Blake

William Blake

William Blake 1757-1827. Getty Images/Hulton Archive

William Blake was born in London in 1757. Instead of going to school, he was apprenticed to an engraver, learning skills he was to use throughout his career as a poet. He then became a student at the Royal Academy of Arts.

When Blake was 23, he made friends with people who were interested in religious mysticism. They influenced him greatly: he published his first poems, touched with mystic ideas, in 1783.

The following year, Blake set up a print shop in London. He engraved and published Songs of Innocence (from which these poems are taken) in 1789. Songs of Experience followed in 1794.

Blake always wrote out poems by hand on an engraving plate, rather than using type, engraved illustrations and hand-coloured them: he was concerned with the presentation of his poetry as well as the words themselves.

He continued to write about and engrave his prophetic Christian visions throughout his life, although he never found the fame he had hoped for. Blake died in 1827. It was not until 50 years later that his work began to be widely recognised. Yeats (who wrote The Song of the Old Mother) admired Blake very much.

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