On this day… 28th November, 1757 – William Blake born
William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) 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.
As a writer and thinker Blake espoused the value of humanity and played a crucial role in developing our understanding of the ‘sixth sense’ of imagination. “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite”, he said in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, influencing the writer Aldous Huxley and a certain LA rock band called The Doors among others. Throughout his life, Blake championed the imagination, and its power.
So radical were his thoughts that many considered him mad. A view not helped by Blake’s claims to have seen visions from an early age of God, various angels and, on one occasion, Satan himself, in an encounter on the staircase of his South Molton Street home.
Did You Know?
Blake could be called the first graphic novelist
Blake married pictures and words together in a single process on one printing plate, developing new techniques to do so. He taught himself to write backwards, so he could work straight onto the copper plate. And, to open up the very strangest side of Blake, he claimed that one of his revolutionary techniques was dictated to him by his dead brother in a vision.