William Blake (Dictionary of World Biography: The 17th and 18th Centuries)
Article abstract: A gifted and highly original poet, painter, engraver, and draftsman, Blake is regarded as one of the great English Romantic poets.
London, at the time of William Blake’s birth on November 28, 1757, was a city of contraries. Blake’s birthplace, 28 Broad Street, was near fashionable Bond Street and Golden Square, an elegant oasis of a park, but also, as has been observed, within sight of almost every sort of evil in eighteenth century London. Within walking distance of the crowded city were miles of green fields and hedgerows, hills and heaths, and quiet villages. Innocence and experience were, so to speak, almost on Blake’s doorstep from his earliest years. Here, too, were the sites of his early visions. At four, he said he was frightened by God peering in the window at him. Later, he reported seeing a tree full of angels and angels with the haymakers in the fields.
Though his father, James Blake, a respectable hosier, came close to thrashing him for falsehood when he spoke of the tree full of angels, he was sensitive enough to listen to the boy’s request not to be sent to school. In 1768, at the age of ten, Blake was sent to Henry Pars, the best drawing teacher in London, and the senior Blake was not only able to afford the...
(The entire section is 3155 words.)
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