William Blake was born in 1757 in Soho district of London. His father James was a hosier. William attended school just enough to learn how to read and write and was further educated by his mother Catherine.
The Blakes were Dissenters. William was baptised at St James's Church in London. The Bible was an early and profound influence on Blake, and would remain so throughout his life.
He was enrolled in drawing classes. At this time, he made his first exlorations into poetry.
In 1772, Blake becomes apprenticed to engraver James Basire, for the term of seven years. After two years, Blake was sent to copy images from Gothic churches around England. His experience in Westminster Abbey helped him form his artistic style and ideas. After his seven-year term ended, he studied briefly at the Royal Academy.
In 1782 he married an illiterate woman named Catherine Boucher. He taught her to read and write. They had no children.
Blake also began training his younger brother Robert in drawing, painting and engraving. Robert fell ill during the winter of 1787 and died. As he died, William said that he saw his brother's spirit rise up through the ceiling clapping its hands with joy. Later on, he claimed that in his dreams, Robert's spirit taught him the printing method for his “illuminated” work.
Blake's first printed work was Poetical Sketches (1783). Poems in the work protest against war, tyranny and King George III's treatment of American colonies. His most popular collection, Songs of Innocence was published in 1789, and were followed by Songs of Experience in 1794.
He privileged imagination over reason in the creating of both, his poetry and images, asserting that ideal forms should be constructed not from observations of nature, but from inner visions.
Works such as “The French Revolution” (1791), “America, a Prophecy” (1793), “Visions of the Daughters of Albion” (1793), and “Europe, a Prophecy” (1794) express his opposition to the English monarchy,...