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William Blake - Biography of the Poet and Artist

Updated on April 9, 2011

Poet and artist William Blake was born on November 28, 1757 in London, England; he was the third of seven children. Blake was mostly home-schooled by his mother. At the age ten he received drawing lessons out of his home, and at fourteen he started working as an apprentice etcher in a print shop.

In 1782, Blake married Catherine Boucher; they had no children. Catherine was illiterate and Blake taught her how to write and how to etch. It was by all accounts a very happy marriage. The last drawing he did before he died was of his wife while she sat at his bedside weeping.

In 1783, Blake’s first book of poems, Poetical Sketches, was published. In 1784, he opened a print shop with his brother which quickly became a meeting place for dissidents and radicals. In 1789, his Songs of Innocence was published, and five-years-later Songs of Experience was published. Blake went on to write any more poems and to illustrate many more books. He was greatly influenced by the French and American revolutions and was an inspiration to many of the poets who came after him.

Ancient of Days 1794


In addition to being a successful poet, William Blake painted some powerful paintings and illustrated many great works of literature, including The Divine Comedy which he was working on until the day he died. His artwork is not for everyone, it can be very graphic and disturbing to some. A lot of it is based on biblical tales.

Today, William Blake is considered one of the most important poets in English literature as well as one of the most talented English artists. He was not as celebrated in his own lifetime and was considered by many to be a mad man, he was most certainly ahead of his time.

William Blake died on August 12, 1827.

He who binds himself to a joy

He who binds himself to a joy

Does the winged life destroy;

But he who kisses the joy as it flies

Lives in eternity's sun rise.

Newton 1795

Jacob's Ladder


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  • Lyrickkw profile image

    Lyrickkw 6 years ago from PHILADELPHIA

    I love his poems.

  • ROBERTHEWETTSR profile image

    rOBERT hEWETT SR. 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

    Terrific hub. Blake would indeed fit right in to the hub society. Take a look at my poet/artist John W. Henson, also from England, but now alive and well in Turkey. Bob

  • Uninvited Writer profile image

    Susan Keeping 8 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    Lol, I think William Blake would fit right into the HubPages forums :)

  • Paraglider profile image

    Dave McClure 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

    Blake is another of my great favourites. He seems to have spent a lot of his time in conversation with 'visitors' that no-one else could see. I read somewhere that he often entertained Gabriel himself! A visionary, certainly. I used to pass his grave regularly, on my walk to work in London. People are still leaving flowers for him.

  • Uninvited Writer profile image

    Susan Keeping 8 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    Sorry I'm so late replying to comments. I'm getting better. Thanks for the comments. Blake is great :)

    That video is slightly disturbing but fascinating at the same time. He has created them for others including James Joyce.

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    ralwus 8 years ago

    I had to just come back to get the rate button working. got it. I still can't read the narrators name on the video. but I do like it. thanks thumbs up now.

  • profile image

    ralwus 8 years ago

    Oh I do like this UW. The video of his animation is so cool and the voice is so like I imagined. The recital [same guy?] of Tyger was superb. I am so impressed by this and thank you so much for doing this wonderful tribut to a great man. I just have to watch them again. LOL wonderful stuff. I may need to borrow his portrait again for my avatar. I do love him so. I just can't say enough about this. LOL and the dam rate whirly gig is going on forever as I wait on the stupid thing.

  • LondonGirl profile image

    LondonGirl 8 years ago from London

    Tyger, Tyger, burning bright - great hub!

  • trooper22 profile image

    trooper22 8 years ago from Chicago

    "What immortal hand dare frame your fearful semetry"

    I was born in the year of the tiger and this poem was first read to me by a long lost love. To this day it is a phrase that I often recall. This is a Great tribute to a great artist. Thanks UW.