William Blake

William Blakewas 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.

 Blake was placed at number 38 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons



28th November  

William Blake was born at 28 Broad Street (now Broadwick St.) in Soho, London. He was the third of seven children,two of whom died in infancy, to James Blake and Catherine Blake (née Wright)

11th December 

William was baptised  at St James's Church, Piccadilly, London.


25th April

Catherine Sophia is born in Battersea, then just outside London on the other side of the River Thames. (Future wife of Blake) D.1831


At the age of eight or ten in Peckham Rye, London, Blake claimed to have seen "a tree filled with angels, bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars."


Blake Enrolled in Henry Pars's drawing school.


Poetical Sketches is the first collection of poetry and prose by William Blake, were writtenThe original.The  1783 copies were seventy-two pages in length, printed in octavo by John Flaxman's aunt, who owned a small print shop in the Strand, and paid for by Anthony Stephen Mathew and his wife Harriet 


Blake enrolled at the  The Royal Academy of Arts (RA) is an art institution based in Burlington House on Piccadilly in London.


4th August

Blake was apprenticed to engraver James Basire of Great Queen Street, at the sum of £52.10, for a term of seven years


8th October

Blake became a student at the Royal Academy in Old Somerset House, near the Strand.



Blake was walking towards Basire's shop in Great Queen Street when he was swept up by a rampaging mob that stormed Newgate Prison. The mob attacked the prison gates with shovels and pickaxes, set the building ablaze, and released the prisoners inside. Blake was reportedly in the front rank of the mob during the attack. The riots, in response to a parliamentary bill revoking sanctions against Roman Catholicism, became known as the Gordon Riots and provoked a flurry of legislation from the government of George III, and the creation of the first police force.

Blake became a friend of John Flaxman, Thomas Stothard and George Cumberland during his first year at the Royal Academy.


Blake met Catherine Boucher his future wife


18th August

Blake's Marries Catherine Boucher at St Mary's Church, Battersea


Blake Moves to 23, Green Street, London


Blake and former fellow apprentice James Parker opened a print shop, and began working with radical publisher Joseph Johnson

Blake Publishes Poetical Sketches.

Blake's father James dies 

Blake composed his unfinished manuscript An Island in the Moon.


Blake Moves to 28 Poland Street, London.



Blake's Younger brother Robert dies from tuberculosis at age 24



Blake experimented with relief etching, a method he used to produce most of his books, paintings, pamphlets and poems. 

All Religions are One, a series of philosophical aphorisms by William Blake, was written


Blake Publishes Songs of Innocence and begins The Book of Thel .
Writes Tiriel

1790 to 1800 

Blake Prints The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Blake lived in North Lambeth, London, at 13 Hercules Buildings, Hercules Road.


Blake begins to engrave seventeen illustrations for John Gabriel Stedman’s Narrative, of a Five Years’ Expedition, Against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam, published in 1796.

Blake engraved, Mary Wollstonecraft Frontispiece to the 1791 edition of Original Stories from Real Life.Wollstonecraft was  English writer, philosopher, and advocate of women's rights.Her second daughter, Mary Shelley, who would become an accomplished writer and author of Frankenstein.


Blake Publishes Visions of the Daughters of Albion, America a Prophecy, and For Children: The Gates of Paradise.

Blake Engraves Albion rose.


Blake Publishes Europe: a Prophecy, Songs of Experience, and The (First) Book of Urizen.

Blake published "The Tyger" a poem


Blake Publishes The Book of Ahania, The Book of Los, and The Song of Los.
Produces twelve large color-printed drawings.

Blake Begins work on 537 water color illustrations to Edward Young's Night Thoughts.


Blake begins work on 116 water color illustrations to the poems of Thomas Gray for John Flaxman.

Young's Night Thoughts published with 43 plates engraved by Blake after his own designs.


Blake moved to a cottage at Felpham, in Sussex (now West Sussex), to take up a job illustrating the works of William Hayley, a minor poet.

Blake Begins biblical water colors for Thomas Butts.

6th May

Blake  a letter of condolence to William Hayley

21st September

Blake wrote a  letter to John Flaxman


Blake Produces eight water color illustrations of Milton's Comus for the Rev. Joseph Thomas


Blake was involved in a physical altercation with a soldier, John Schofield. Blake was charged not only with assault, but with uttering seditious and treasonable expressions against the king.

25th April

Blake wrote a letter to Thomas Butts



Blake was Acquitted of sedition charges

Blake returned to London in 1804 and began to write and illustrate Jerusalem


Blake Begins illustrations for Blair's The Grave, to be published by Robert Cromek.
Produces nineteen water color illustrations of the Book of Job for Thomas Butts


Blake Produces twelve water color illustrations of Milton's Paradise Lost for the Rev. Joseph Thomas.

Blake produces the Pickering Manuscript.

Thomas Phillips, the English portrait and subject painter, paint a portrait of Blake.Now found in The National Portrait Gallery, London.


Blake Produces twelve water color illustrations of Milton's Paradise Lost for Thomas Butts.


Blake gave vigorous expression of his views on art in an extensive series of polemical annotations to the Discourses of Sir Joshua Reynolds, denouncing the Royal Academy as a fraud and proclaiming, "To Generalize is to be an Idiot"


Blake Exhibits sixteen paintings at 28 Broad Street, accompanied by a Descriptive Catalogue defending his theory and practice.

Blake Produces six water color illustrations of Milton’s On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity for the Rev. Joseph Thomas.


Blake was introduced by George Cumberland's son to a young artist named John Linnell.

Blake begins sketching "Visionary Heads" for John Varley.


Blake publishes For the Sexes: The Gates of Paradise


Blake Prints first copies of Jerusalem The Emanation of the Giant Albion.Virgil's Pastorals, edited by Robert John Thornton, published with wood engravings by Blake

Blake Produces twenty-one water color illustrations of the Book of Job for John Linnell. He  Moves to 3 Fountain Court, London.


 Blake completed a short two-page dramatic piece which would prove to be the last of his illuminated manuscripts, entitled The Ghost of Abel A Revelation In the Visions of Jehovah Seen by William Blake.

Blake Produces three water color illustrations of Milton's Paradise Lost for John Linnell.


The Ancients (also known as the Shoreham Ancients) was started. These  were a group of young English artists and others who were brought together around 1824 by their attraction to archaism in art and admiration for the work of William Blake 

Blake met Samuel Palmer British landscape painter, etcher & print maker through John Linnell


The commission for Dante's Divine Comedy came to Blake through Linnell, with the aim of producing a series of engravings.

Blake Begins Genesis Manuscript.


12th August

William Blake died aged  (aged 69)  in his rooms at 3 Fountain Court. Charing Cross, London, England

 Blake's body was buried in a plot shared with others, five days after his death – on the eve of his 45th wedding anniversary – at the Dissenter's burial ground in Bunhill Fields, in what is today the London Borough of Islington

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