William Blake short biography


William Blake was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age.

William Blake short biography

William Blake was born on November 28, 1757, in the Soho district of London, England. He only briefly attended school, being chiefly educated at home by his mother. Blake’s early ambitions lay not with poetry but with painting and at the age of 14, after attending drawing school, he was apprenticed to James Basire, engraver. After his seven-year term was complete, Blake studied at the Royal Academy, but he is known to have questioned the aesthetic doctrines of its president, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and his stay there was brief. It nonetheless afforded him friendships with John Flaxman and Henry Fuseli, academics whose work may have influenced him.

In 1784, he set up a print shop, but within a few years the business floundered and for the rest of his life Blake eked out a living as an engraver and illustrator. His wife, Catharine, whom he married in 1782, remained faithful and diligent and she helped him to print the illuminated poetry for which he is remembered today.

In 1789, he published his Songs of Innocence, the gentlest of his lyrics, but the collection was followed by Songs of Experience, containing a profound expression of adult corruption and repression.

In 1793 Blake published Visions of the Daughters of Albion. The same year, 1793 Blake published The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Also in 1793 Blake published America, a Prophecy.

In 1794 Blake published a book of poems called Songs of Experience. It included the famous poem The Tiger. The Book of Urizen was also published in 1794. Also in 1794 William Blake published Europe, a Prophecy.

In 1800 William Blake moved to the village of Felpham near Bognor in Sussex. Then on 12 August 1803 Blake got into a fight with a soldier named John Schofield who entered his garden. Schofield later told a magistrate that Blake damned the king of England during the altercation. William Blake was tried for sedition (a serious charge) in Chichester in January 1804. However he was acquitted. Meanwhile in 1803 Blake and his wife returned to London. In the years 1804-1810 William Blake wrote and illustrated his poem Milton. The famous poem Jerusalem by William Blake was first published in 1820. Also in 1820 Blake painted a miniature called The Ghost of a Flea.

In 1825 Blake was commissioned illustrate Divine Comedy by Dante but he died before he could complete the task. William Blake died on 12 August 1827. He was buried in Bunhill Fields in London.

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