Publication Announcement – Blake’s illustrations to works by William Hayley

By Andrea H. Everett

Little Tom the Sailor, copy 1, detail

The William Blake Archive is pleased to announce the publication of electronic editions of Blake’s illustrations to works by William Hayley, including his Essay on Sculpture, the broadside ballad Little Tom the Sailor, The Triumphs of Temper, The Life and Posthumous Writings of William Cowper, and The Life of George Romney. We are also republishing Blake’s etched and engraved illustrations to Designs to a Series of Ballads, Written by William Hayley (1802) and Hayley’s Ballads (1805). The designs and engraved texts of both sets of Ballads illustrations, as well as the new material now being published, are fully searchable.

Little Tom the Sailor, copy 1, detail

In late 1799, William Hayley was seeking an engraver to illustrate his poem Essay on Sculpture. Possibly on the advice of the sculptor John Flaxman, Hayley commissioned Blake to produce three plates. In July 1800, Blake spent much of July working on the final plate, an engraving of Hayley’s deceased son, Thomas, in Hayley’s library in the coastal village of Felpham, West Sussex. During these weeks, Hayley persuaded Blake to relocate from London to Felpham to work on a number of graphic projects. Disenchanted with his failure to …read more