Biography of William Blake


William Blake was born on November 28, 1757, in Soho in London; he had a grounded and happy upbringing. Although always a well-read and intelligent man, Blake left school at the early age of ten to attend the Henry Pars Drawing Academy for five years. The artists he admired as a child such as Raphael, Michelangelo, Giulio, Romano
and Dürer.

He began writing poetry at the age of twelve, and in 1783, his friends paid for the printing of his first collection of poems, titled “Poetical Sketches,” which was considered a major poetical occurrence of the 18th century. Despite his apparent poetic abilities, his official occupation was that of an engraver since he could not afford to do a painter’s apprenticeship and thus began his apprenticeship with engraver James Basire in 1772. He joined the Royal Academy of Art six years after finishing his apprenticeship. His painting and engraving remained separate at this stage – he wrote and drew for pleasure and engraved to make a living.

William Blake was the most self-reliant and original of the eighteenth-century Romantic poets. He began writing poems as a child when he was the only one. He is regarded as one of the greatest Romantic poets of all time. Then he seemed to be primarily influenced by Elizabethan songwriters. Later, he appeared to no other voice but his own mystic soul. Blake was a mystic and a visionary. As a child, he had visions of God and the angels peering in through the window. When his younger brother died, he noticed angels swooping down to retrieve him. As a man, he received visits from the souls of the great poets of the past: Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Milton.

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Blake married Catherine Boucher at the age of 25, and she collaborated with him on the majority of his artistic works. In 1788, they collaborated on the publication of his first illuminated book, ‘Songs of Innocence.’ Blake wanted his poetry to be more than just words on a page, and he felt it needed to be illustrated to achieve the desired effect. He completed ‘The Book of Thel’ shortly after, and from 1790-3, ‘The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,’ which followed on from his significant Prophetic books. These books were a collection of his philosophical ideas, and while they had nothing to do with his poetry, they were a sign of his growing awareness of the social injustices of his time, which led to the completion of his ’Songs of Experience’ in 1794 was followed by Milton (1804-18080, and Jerusalem (1804- 1820). One of Blake’s poem was The Echoing Green. The poem talks about merry sounds and images which accompany the children playing outdoors. Then an old man happily remembered when he enjoyed playing with his friends during his own childhood. Blake’s expresses in simple and lovely diction the happiness and innocence of a child first thought about.

William Blake died in 1827 and was buried in Bunhill Fields, London, England, in an unmarked grave. Except for a few, Blake was a loving and caring soul who was misunderstood by the rest of the world. He led a happy and contented life of poverty, full of visions and dreams. His final work was said to be a drawing of his wife. Perhaps Blake’s life can be summarised by his statement, “the imagination is not a state: it is the human existence itself.”

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