Gilchrist on Blake

Alexander Gilchrist and Prof. Richard Holmes, O.B.E.

This was the first biography of William Blake ever written, at a time when the great visionary poet and painter was generally forgotten, ridiculed or dismissed as insane. Wonderfully vivid and outspoken (one chapter is entitled ‘Mad or Not Mad’), it was based on revealing interviews with many of Blake’s surviving friends.

Blake conversed with spirits, saw angels in trees, and sunbathed naked with his wife ‘like Adam and Eve’. Gilchrist adds detailed descriptions of Blake’s beliefs and working methods, an account of his trial for high treason and fascinating evocations of the places in London, Kent and Sussex where he lived. The book ultimately transformed and enhanced Blake’s reputation.