Working with Vertical Text

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By robmrich

It wasn’t until I began looking through all the letters in the Blake Archive that I realized just how unique Blake’s second November 22nd 1802 letter to Thomas Butts really is. This uniqueness poses some interesting problems when it comes to encoding. The text of this letter fills both leaves of paper from top to bottom and comes very close to the margins. It includes both prose and verse, and the verse is in two columns that begin on the first page and end on the second.

The substantial amount of text in a relatively limited space apparently induced Blake to write some of his text vertically in the margins. In the first of the two objects, two lines of verse are written in the left margin with a caret indicating where Blake meant those two lines of verse to be inserted into the poem. Additionally, at the very bottom of the second page of the letter, the P.S. line is written at the very bottom of the page and the last several words of it turn upward at the bottom right corner and run vertically up the right margin.

The latter of these two problems seems fairly straightforward. From looking at …read more