William Blake, by James Daugherty, is divided into six parts. The first five parts cover the different phases of Blake’s life, from his birth in 1757 to his death in 1827. The dividing line for each part is Blake’s place of residence. Each part consists of at least four short chapters, many of which are subtitled with epigraphs from Blake’s own works or letters. Part 6 contains black-and-white reproductions of Blake’s twenty-one designs for Illustrations of the Book of Job (1825), with a commentary by Daugherty on the facing page of each design. An appendix lists the important collections of Blake’s pictures, prints, and books in the United States and recommends an edition of Blake’s writings.
Within this framework, Daugherty highlights the most colorful episodes in a life that was not overfilled with dramatic events. In telling Blake’s story, Daugherty makes use of Blake’s poems, notebooks, and letters, as well as anecdotes about Blake recorded by his friends and contemporaries. As background, Daugherty also creates some fine scenic descriptions of eighteenth century London and the English countryside.
In part 1, which covers the first thirty-five years of Blake’s life, Daugherty emphasizes the visionary quality of Blake’s imagination that showed itself in childhood, his seven years spent as an engraver’s apprentice, his marriage to Catherine Boucher, the death of his younger brother, Robert, and his...
(The entire section is 432 words.)