Background to William Blake

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A background to William Blake. William Blake was born in London on 28th November 1757, and died on 12th August 1827. From childhood he had a strongly visual mind: whatever he imagined he also saw. His father apprenticed him to an engraver and by this craft he lived. He also drew and painted, but his work was not liked, and only in his last years was he given the chance to make the noble and original designs which had crowded his head all his life. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. His prophetic poetry has been said to form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language" (Northrop Frye) Political and religious background during Blake’s time Unlike most of the other Romantic poets, and with the exception of the three years he lived in Sussex, Blake lived in London. Unlike Keats, the only one to challenge his status as sole Londoner among the Romantics, Blake did not hanker after ideal realms that were entirely different to London. As industrialization grew and spread, the city became more and more smoky, dirty, overflowing with poor people, with the evidence of the power of the King, his church, and the wealthy everywhere. Far from being an isolated mystic, Blake lived and worked in the teeming metropolis of London at a time of great social and political change that profoundly influenced his writing. After the peace established in 1762, the British Empire seemed secure, but the storm wave begun with the American Revolution in 1775 and the French Revolution in 1789 changed forever the way men looked at their relationship to the state and to the established church. Blake worked to bring about a change both in the social order and in the minds of men. One of Blake’s main influences was the society in which
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