Five Questions: Lucy Cogan on Blake and the Failure of Prophecy

By Matthew Sangster

Lucy Cogan is Lecturer in Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Literature at University College Dublin, Ireland. Her research focuses on the intersections of gender, politics and religion in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century writing. She has published articles on Sarah Butler and Charlotte Brooke and edited Charlotte Dacre’s Confessions of the Nun of St Omer for the Chawton House Library Series. Her particular passion is William Blake, on whom she has published several articles and book chapters and who is the subject of her first monograph, Blake and the Failure of Prophecy, which has just been published by Palgrave Macmillan and which we discuss below.

1) How did you first become interested in William Blake?

Back when I was doing an MA in Modernity and Culture and thinking naïvely that I might do a PhD on imagist poetry or something, I took a module run by the eminent Coleridge scholar Jim Mays on intertextuality which featured Milton’s Paradise Lost, Blake’s Milton and Allen Ginsburg’s Howl. Mays had chosen the Tate facsimile edition of Blake’s Milton as the set text but you couldn’t get it anywhere and I became mildly obsessed with hunting it down. After traipsing all over London …read more