Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

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.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

William Blake lived in London for most of his life, and consequently this city serves as the principal setting for Daugherty's biography. The...

(The entire section is 96 words.)

Literary Qualities

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Most critical writing about Blake is extremely sophisticated, a reflection of the complexity of the ideas expressed in Blake's own work. In...

(The entire section is 318 words.)

Social Sensitivity

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Blake is considered by scholars to be one of the most original and radical thinkers in English history. His ideas about society and God...

(The entire section is 371 words.)

Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Even though many of his ideas appear to be impractical and eccentric, what does Blake have to say to present day society?


(The entire section is 93 words.)

Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Although Blake was a highly original and inventive artist, he was influenced by the attitudes and styles of his time, if only by rejecting...

(The entire section is 209 words.)

For Further Reference

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Blunt, Anthony. The Art of William Blake. New York: Columbia University Press, 1959. The reader who would like to dig more deeply into...

(The entire section is 172 words.)