The William Blake Archive is pleased to announce the publication of electronic editions of our first installment of Blake’s letters, the correspondence of his last two years, 1825-27, mostly with his friend, benefactor, and fellow artist John Linnell, who sponsored such projects as Blake’s engraved Illustrations of the Book of Job (1826) and Illustrations to Dante, on which he was still working when he died.
About ninety of Blake’s letters survive—an unknown fraction of the total. The surviving correspondence begins rather late in his career, in October 1791, the month before he turned 34, and ends, as far as we know, the month before his death at age 69 in August 1827—just three sentences to Linnell, to thank him for sending ten pounds and to indicate that his “journey to Hampstead on Sunday brought on a relapse . . . . however I am upon the mending hand to day & hope soon to look as I did for I have been yellow accompanied by all the old Symptoms.”
Blake traveled seldom and not very far, and he was little known beyond a small circle of British contemporaries, most of them in London. His circle of correspondents …read more