By Margaret Speer
A couple of weeks ago, in a carpe diem moment of this, my last summer as an undergraduate bum, I found myself in the wonder emporium of my cousin’s basement. My cousin and her friends suggested we watch the prequel to The Silence of the Lambs, which is an old family favorite. I had never seen the film in question. In fact, I didn’t even really know there was a prequel. There is, though, and it’s called Red Dragon. (more…)
I’ve always been a fan of those “On This Day” features you often see in newspapers and now online. This is probably picked up from my Dad who has a wonderful memory for dates and can usually be relied upon to find and remember the most random coincidences (for example, did you know that Kublai Khan and Bruce Springsteen share a birthday?). As we get ready for 4 July celebrations here in the US, I thought I’d spend this post thinking about today, a less remembered date but significant in its own way.
So here we go: On This Day, 2 July, the Battle of Marston Moor was fought, Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan disappeared over the Pacific Ocean, a UFO crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, and Hermann Hesse celebrated his birthday. Also on 2 July (note that seamless transition), Blake wrote a letter to his patron and friend, George Cumberland. (more…)
It’s summer. Offices are empty; others are under construction. Many of us have been called away on summer business or have fled to more exotic locales. I’m on the road myself, typing from a very fine bagel shop in Ithaca, NY.
I like to travel. I really like bagels.
Unfortunately, an adventurous cosmopolitan spirit and dedication to the most hole-y of rolls doesn’t offer a lot of traction with our man Blake. Readers who are even somewhat familiar with Blake’s biography know that he didn’t exactly “get out” much. Except for a few years spent near the shore in Felpham (way down in West Sussex), Blake never really left London. (Also no evidence that he ever got hold of a really good bagel.)
But perusing the Archive, we know that Blake did appreciate travel. Only, his travel was more the internal, “like, far-out, man,” kind of movement. (more…)
In the past month, I’ve transitioned from working on Blake’s letters and begun transcribing and building the BAD for “The Phoenix,” a newly discovered work by Blake whose provenance is (most conveniently) recorded in Bentley’s Blake Books supplement, one of BAND’s go-to reference works. Written in various shades of colored ink (and in a careful, vastly neater hand than Blake’s normal handwriting), “The Phoenix” is a brief, charming piece of verse dedicated to Mrs. Elizabeth Butts, wife of Thomas Butts, a clerk in the office of Britain’s Commissionary General of Musters and one of Blake’s main patrons from the years 1794-1806. (more…)
In my last post, we were left wondering what the “P&S.” or “E&S.” written at the bottom of one of the “Pale desire” manuscript pages could mean. (If you haven’t been keeping up, you can find the first and second installments of our saga here and here.) Well, Sandy and I both took a stab at it. (more…)
By Margaret Speer
In her May 14 post, “Blake’s ‘Catalogue’ and Descriptive Criticism,” my colleague and fellow undergraduate project assistant, Megan, impugned Blake, suggesting that his tone in the Descriptive Catalogue evinces a character somewhere on a spectrum between ridiculous and certifiable. I would like to offer a different response to, if not impression of, Mr. B’s insane aggression as manifested in the Descriptive Catalogue. (more…)
Over the past year, the Archive’s publication of existing Blake letters has offered a unique perspective on the personal history of Blake, which complements the view his professional character through his numerous illustrations and engravings.
To this point, the Blake Archive has published two batches of letters, with a third on the way in the coming months.
Working with and reading the letters, we often get a cheap thrill in the office by joking about what Blake was doing on a particular day a couple hundred years ago. (Yes, we realize how sad this is.) More often than not, Blake is pretty damn cold. (more…)
The William Blake Archive is pleased to announce the publication of fully searchable and scalable electronic editions of the following works related to Blake’s development of his illustrations to Robert Blair’s The Grave:
The other week, I posted an entry concerning my transcription of a set of manuscript pages beginning “then She bore Pale desire”. At the bottom of one of the pages, what seems to be an abbreviation is written in pencil marks that have either faded over time or were initially written with a series of light strokes. Here’s the image again:
By Megan Wilson
Blake’s A Descriptive Catalogue of Pictures is much more than a simple description of the paintings Blake had for sale in London, 1809. The first evidence is the prologue where Blake, or as he calls himself “Mr. B,” defends his methods of art against the likes of Titian, Correggio, Rubens, and Rembrandt. Despite his hostile tone, the prologue is an acceptable place for such a defense, and the reader may allow the commentary without taking much exception to it. (more…)