William Blake: Biography offers glimpse into artist and poet’s visionary mind

The imagination is not a state: it is the human existence itself.”

William Blake

Paul Glynn, writing for the BBC says:

One day in 1801, when William Blake was living on the Sussex coast, he went on a long country walk when he got into an argument with a thistle.

The artist, poet and musician, who experienced beatific visions throughout his 69 years on Earth, wasn’t wandering lonely as a cloud, like some of his Romantic peers.

On this occasion, the prickly plant he encountered also took the form of a hectoring old man. For all Blake could see, the two were inseparable.

The London shopkeeper’s son (who didn’t go to school) would also regularly see God, angels and demons, and often spoke with the spirit of his dead brother Robert. His wife Catherine once commented: “I see very little of my husband, he’s always in paradise.”

These divine and mind-bending experiences informed Blake’s world view and inspired his deeply philosophical illustrated texts like Jerusalem and Milton.

As a result, though, he was deemed mad by much of 18th and 19th Century England, and died penniless and largely unheralded.

Nowadays, he is widely considered one of UK’s most influential and respected artists and poets. And in a new biography, William Blake vs the World, author John Higgs argues we are now far better placed to understand what was going on inside his head …”

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