Publication Announcement – The Book of Thel, copies B and I

By Andrea H. Everett

The Book of Thel, copy B, object 2

The William Blake Archive is pleased to announce the publication of electronic editions of The Book of Thel copies B and I, in the Mellon Collection, Yale Center for British Art, and Bodleian Library, Oxford University, respectively. The Book of Thel is dated 1789 by Blake on the title page, but the first plate (Thel’s Motto) and the last (her descent into the netherworld) appear to have been completed and first printed in 1790, while Blake was working on The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

Copies B and I are from the first of three printings of Thel, during which Blake produced at least thirteen copies, printed in five different inks to diversify his stock. Copy B, for example, was printed in brown ink, copy I in green; both are lightly finished in water colors. Copies from this press run were certainly on hand when Blake included the book in his advertisement “To the Public” of October 1793: “The Book of Thel, a Poem in Illuminated Printing. Quarto, with 6 designs, price 3s.” Copies B and I join in the Archive copies D, G, H, J, L, and R from this first printing, and copy F, …read more