William Blake

#36414, b. 28 November 1757, d. 12 August 1827

Individual's Timeline

Birth28 November 1757William Blake1
Christening11 December 1757William Blake1
Marriage18 August 1782William Blake
Death of FatherJuly 1784James Blake
Death of MotherSeptember 1792Catherine Wright2
Death12 August 1827William Blake3

Primary events

Secondary circumstances

  • Occupation: William was Poet and painter. His mother schooled William at home, and he was apprenticed to engraver James BASIRE Aug 1772. In 1779, he became a student at the Royal Academy. In 1783, his first book of poems, Poetical Sketches, was published. His publisher was Joseph JOHNSON (b15th Nov 1738, died 20th Dec 1809) refer to Wikipedia for full bio of Joseph. The Blake prize for religious art, which has been awarded since 1949, was established in his honour. One GREAT quote from his poetical works -
    Prisons are built with stones of Law, Brothels with bricks of Religion.
    As the catterpillar [sic] chooses the fairest leaves to lay her eggs on, so the priest lays his curse on the fairest joys. (8.21, 9.55, E36).

Research Notes

  • Research note 01: William Blake Nov 28 1757 - Aug 12 1827

    from Wikipedia :~

    William Blake was born in 28A Broad Street, Golden Square, London, England on 28 November 1757, to a middle-class family. He was the third of seven children, who consisted of one girl and six boys, two of whom died in infancy. Blake's father, James, was a hosier.
    On 4 August 1772, Blake became apprenticed to engraver James Basire of Great Queen Street, for the term of seven years. At the end of this period, at the age of 21, he was to become a professional engraver.
    In 1778, Blake became a student at the Royal Academy in Old Somerset House, near the Strand. While the terms of his study required no payment, he was expected to supply his own materials throughout the six-year period.
    In June 1780, Blake was walking towards Basire's shop in Great Queen Street when he was swept up by a rampaging mob that stormed Newgate Prison in London. Many among the mob were wearing blue cockades on their caps, to symbolise solidarity with the insurrection in the American colonies. They attacked the prison gates with shovels and pickaxes, set the building ablaze, and released the prisoners inside. Blake was reportedly in the front rank of the mob during this attack; most biographers believe he accompanied the crowd impulsively.
    In 1782, Blake met John Flaxman, who was to become his patron, and Catherine Boucher, who was to become his wife. At the time, Blake was recovering from a relationship that had culminated in a refusal of his marriage proposal. Telling Catherine and her parents the story, she expressed her sympathy, whereupon Blake asked her, "Do you pity me?" To Catherine's affirmative response he responded, "Then I love you." Blake married Catherine – who was five years his junior – on 18 August 1782 in St. Mary's Church, Battersea. Illiterate, Catherine signed her wedding contract with an 'X'. Later, in addition to teaching Catherine to read and write, Blake trained her as an engraver;
    Blake's first collection of poems, Poetical Sketches, was published around 1783. After his father's death, William and his brother Robert opened a print shop in 1784,
    Blake's marriage to Catherine remained a close and devoted one until his death. There were early problems, however, such as Catherine's illiteracy and the couple's failure to produce children. Gilchrist refers to "stormy times" in the early years of the marriage It is possible that at one point, in accordance with the beliefs of the Swedenborgian Society, Blake suggested bringing in a concubine Catherine was distressed at the idea, and Blake promptly withdrew it. Blake taught her to write, and she helped him to colour his printed poems
    Around the year 1800 Blake moved to a cottage at Felpham in Sussex (now West Sussex) to take up a job illustrating the works of William Hayley, a minor poet. It was in this cottage that Blake wrote Milton: a Poem (published between 1805 and 1808). The preface to this work includes a poem beginning "And did those feet in ancient time", which became the words for the patriotic song, "Jerusalem". Over time, Blake came to resent his new patron, coming to believe that Hayley was not paying as well as he could afford to pay.
    Blake returned to London in 1802 and began to write and illustrate Jerusalem (1804–1820), his most ambitious work.
    he wrote his Descriptive Catalogue (1809),
    On the day of his death, Blake worked relentlessly on his Dante series. Eventually, it is reported, he ceased working and turned to his wife, who was in tears by his bedside. Beholding her, Blake is said to have cried, "Stay Kate! Keep just as you are – I will draw your portrait – for you have ever been an angel to me." Having completed this portrait (now lost), Blake laid down his tools and began to sing hymns and verses. At six that evening, after promising his wife that he would be with her always, Blake died. Gilchrist reports that a female lodger in the same house, present at his expiration, said, "I have been at the death, not of a man, but of a blessed angel".
    Following Blake's death, Catherine moved into Tatham's house as a housekeeper. During this period, she believed she was regularly visited by Blake's spirit. She continued selling his illuminated works and paintings, but would entertain no business transaction without first "consulting Mr. Blake"On the day of her own death, in October 1831, she was as calm and cheerful as her husband, and called out to him "as if he were only in the next room, to say she was coming to him, and it would not be long now".
    Upon her death, Blake's manuscripts were inherited by Frederick Tatham, who burned several of those which he deemed heretical or too politically radical
    In 1957 a memorial was erected in Westminster Abbey, in memory of him and his wife.
  • Research note 02: An extracted record in IGI (M019021) has the marriage of James and Catherine HARMITAGE 15th Oct 1752.

Family of William Blake and Catherine Sophia Boucher


  1. Website England and Wales BMD records 1530-1940 (unknown url) "No doc scan. Source as stated on ancestry is Place: Westminster, London, England; Collection: St James; -; Date Range: 1723 - 1786; Film Number: 1042308. Street address is not confirmed by this. Mother named as Catherine only.
    William Blake
    Gender:      Male
    Birth Date:      28 Nov 1757
    Christening Date:      11 Dec 1757
    Christening Place:      Westminster, London, England
    Age at Christening:      0
    Father's name:      James Blake
    Mother's name:      Catherine."
  2. Burials in Middlesex and London, Middledex and City of London Burials and MIs, First name(s):      Catherine
    Last name:      BLAKE
    Date of burial:      7 September 1792
    Place of burial:      Bunhill Fields
    Age at death:      70
    Approximate year of birth:      1722
    Address at death:      St James, Westminster
    Record source:      City of London Burials      
    Data provider:      John Hanson and Monnica Stevens.
  3. 197 Piccadilly, London. President: Philip Pullman The Blake Society at St James’s, 2010.
  4. Burials in Middlesex and London, Middledex and City of London Burials and MIs, First name(s):      William
    Last name:      BLAKE
    Date of burial:      17 August 1827
    Place of burial:      Bunhill Fields
    Age at death:      69
    Approximate year of birth:      1758
    Address at death:      Fountain Ct, Strand
    Record source:      City of London Burials      
    Data provider:      John Hanson and Monnica Stevens.