The artist, poet and mystic William Blake was born on November 28, 1757. His work is virtually unclassifiable. He was considered to be mad by many of his contemporaries.
Yet he influenced later generations of poets and painters and is now considered to be one of Britain’s greatest literary geniuses.
Blake apprenticed as an engraver at the age of ten, attended The Royal Academy of Arts and later opened a print shop. He also took on commissions to illustrate books by other poets.
When he began to write poetry he also illustrated these. In the mix of words and images he invented his own intricate mythology, often taken from the visions he had experienced since childhood.
William Wordsworth said of him “There was no doubt that this poor man was mad, but there is something in the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott.”
Blake was entirely forgotten at the time of his death, but today The Songs of Innocence and The Songs of Experience, Jerusalem and The Marriage of Heaven and Hell are inseparable from modern Britain’s cultural heritage.