William Blake (1757–1827). The Poetical Works. 1908.

Chronological Table

1757William Blake, third child of James and Catherine Blake, born at 28 Broad Street, Carnaby Market, Golden Square, November 28.

1760Birth of his brother John, ‘the evil one’, March 20.

1762Birth of his brother Robert, July 11.

1764Birth of his sister Catherine Elizabeth, January 7.

1765Childish visions.

1767Begins the study of art at Pars’ Drawing School in the Strand.

1768 or –69Earliest of the Poetical Sketches written.

1771Apprenticed to Basire, engraver to the Society of Antiquaries.

1773Employed in sketching monuments in Westminster Abbey. Engraves his plate of ‘Joseph of Arimathea among the rocks of Albion’.

1776 or –77Latest of the Poetical Sketches written.

c. 1777Seven-Page MS. containing the poem called ‘The Passions’ and another piece.

1778Termination of apprenticeship.
Studies for a short time under Moser in the Antique School of the newly-founded Royal Academy.
Begins water-colour painting with his ‘Penance of Jane Shore’.

1779Employed as engraver by J. Johnson and other booksellers.

1780Makes the acquaintance of Stothard and by him introduced to Flaxman.
Meets Fuseli, his neighbour in Broad Street.
Exhibits for the first time at the Royal Academy.

1781Falls in love with ‘a lively little girl’ named Polly Wood, who rejects him.
Recuperates from illness at Kew, in the house of a market-gardener named Boucher, and is consoled by his daughter Catherine.

1782Marries Catherine Boucher (or Butcher) at St. Mary’s, Battersea, August 18.
Commences housekeeping in lodgings at 23 Green Street, Leicester Fields.
Introduced by Flaxman to Mrs. Mathew, and becomes for a while a frequenter of her salon at 27 Rathbone Place.

1783Poetical Sketches printed at the expense of Flaxman and the Rev. Henry Mathew. 1784Death of Blake’s father, July.
Aided by Mrs. Mathew, opens a print-seller’s shop at 27 Broad Street in partnership with Parker, a former fellow apprentice. Takes his younger brother Robert as pupil.

c. 1784Writes An Island in the Moon, containing earliest of Songs of Innocence, and foreshadowing a scheme of ‘Illuminated Printing’.

1787Death of Robert, February.
Gives up print-shop, dissolving partnership with Parker, and removing to 28 Poland Street.

1788‘W. Blake’s original stereotype,’ i.e. first use of new process of relief-engraving employed in his ‘Illuminated Printing’.
Quaere, engraves the two tractates entitled There is No Natural Religion and All Religions are One.

c. 1788–9Marginalia to Lavater’s Aphorisms, published 1788.
Marginalia to Swedenborg’s Wisdom of Angels, published 1788.
Writes Tiriel.

1789Songs of Innocence.
Book of Thel.

c. 1790Begins to use the Sketch-Book (Rossetti MS.) for illustrations.

1790Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

1791The French Revolution, Book the First, set up in type by Johnson with a view to publication.

1792Death of Blake’s mother, act. 70, September.
Warns Thomas Paine of impending arrest.

c. 1792A Song of Liberty.
Quaere, engraves Outhoun.

1793Begins to use Sketch-Book as a note-book for poetry.
Visions of the Daughters of Albion.
Removes to 13 Hercules Buildings, Lambeth (now 23 Hercules Road).
Note in Rossetti MS.: ‘I say I shan’t live five years. And if I live one it will be a Wonder,’ June.
Publishes two small books of engravings: The History of England and For Children: The Gates of Paradise.
Sketches title-pages for the Bible of Hell, and For Children: The Gates of Hell.
America: a Prophecy.
Prospectus ‘To the Public’ giving a list of ‘Works now published and on sale at Mr. Blake’s’, October 10.

c. 1793Makes the acquaintance of future patron, Thomas Butts.

1794Songs of Experience.
Europe: a Prophecy.
The [First] Book of Urizen.

1795The Song of Los.

1795The Book of Los.
The Book of Ahania.

1796Designs for Bürger’s Leonora.
Engaged on designs and engravings to Young’s Night Thoughts (published 1797).

1797Begins to transcribe and illustrate his fair copy of The Four Zoas.

1797–9Suffers from lack of employment as engraver. Turns to designs in water-colour. Commissions from Butts.

1800Introduced by Flaxman to Hayley.
Leaves Lambeth and settles at Felpham, September.
Resumes use of Sketch-Book as a note-book for poetry.

1800–3Works for Hayley.
Letters to Flaxman and Butts.
Revises The Four Zoas.
Begins the composition of Milton and Jerusalem.

1801–3circa Writes poems in Pickering MS.

1803Strained relations with Hayley; determines to leave Felpham, April.
Affray with dragoon; warrant issued for his arrest on charge of sedition, August.
Returns to London, to rooms at 17 South Molton Street, September.

1804Tried at Chichester Quarter Sessions and acquitted, January 11.
Begins engraving Milton and Jerusalem.

1804–5Letters to Hayley.

1805Designs for Blair’s Grave, purchased by Cromek, who, in violation of his agreement, gives the engraving to Schiavonetti.

1806Malkin’s account of Blake in A Father’s Memoirs of his Child, January 4.
Writes epigram ‘Grown old in love from seven till seven times seven’.

c. 1806Cromek sees Blake’s design ‘The Canterbury Pilgrims’ and commissions Stothard to paint a picture on the same subject.

1807Note in Rossetti MS.: ‘Tuesday Jany 20, 1807, between Two & seven in the Evening, Despair.’
Stothard’s ‘Canterbury Pilgrimage’ exhibited. Final rupture with Cromek, May.

1807–8Designs in illustration of Paradise Lost.

1807–10Epigrams in Rossetti MS.

1808Completes water-colour painting of ‘The Last Judgement’ for Countess of Egremont, February 18.
Publication of Blake’s Illustrations to Blair’s Grave, Summer.
Review of same in Hunt’s Examiner, August 7.
Marginalia to Reynolds’ Discourses.

1808–9Quaere, writes Barry: a Poem and Book of Moonlight.
Completes engraving of Milton.

1809Exhibition of pictures at 28 Broad Street, May to September.
Prospectus of engraving of ‘Canterbury Pilgrims,’ May 15.
Descriptive Catalogue.
Critique of Exhibition in Examiner, September 17.

1810Note in Rossetti MS.: ‘Found the Word Golden,’ May 23.
Drafts in Rossetti MS. ‘Advertisements to Blake’s Canterbury Pilgrims from Chaucer containing anecdotes of Artists’ (Public Address).
Publication of his engraving of the ‘Canterbury Pilgrims’, October 8.
Drafts in Rossetti MS. a description of his painting of ‘The Last Judgement’ entitled For the year 1810: Additions to Blake’s Catalogue of Pictures &c.

c. 1810‘The Everlasting Gospel.’
Re-issues Gates of Paradise (For the Sexes), with Prologue, Epilogue, and Keys of the Gates.

1811–17Years of obscurity.

1812Reprints The Prologue and Characters of Chaucer’s Pilgrims.

c. 1817Engraves leaflets Laocoon, and On Homer’s Poetry [and] On Virgil.

1818Introduced by Cumberland to Linnell, June.

1819Introduced by Linnell to Varley.
Executes the ‘Visionary Heads’.

1820Begins large ‘fresco’ of ‘The Last Judgement’.
Designs and executes woodcuts for Thornton’s Pastorals of Virgil.
Completes engraving of Jerusalem.

1821Removes to 3 Fountain Court, Strand.

c. 1821Executes water-colour designs illustrating the Book of Job for Butts.

1822Receives a donation of £25 from the Royal Academy.
The Ghost of Abel.

1823Commissioned by Linnell to paint and engrave replicas of the designs for Job, March 25.

1825Completion of engravings for Job, March (published March, 1826).
First meeting with Crabb Robinson, December 10.

c. 1825Meets Tatham.

1825–6Executes designs in illustration of Dante for Linnell.

1826Attacks of illness, February and May.

1827Dies, August 12.

1831Death of Catherine Blake, October 18.