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Although today William Blake (1757-1827) is recognised as a visionary poet and artist, at the time of his death he was unknown except for his presumed insanity. This highly influential two-volume biography by the barrister Alexander Gilchrist, first published in 1863 and reissued here in its second edition (1880), rescued William Blake from almost complete obscurity. The accepted interpretation of his madness was challenged and his creative talents were brought to the attention of Victorian society by the inclusion of selected writings and artistic works, nearly all previously unpublished. Volume 1 of Gilchrist's book is an account of William Blake's life, combining excerpts from his written works and paintings with detailed biographical information drawn from surviving letters and contemporary accounts. The second volume contains a large selection of his poetry and prose together with an annotated catalogue of William Blake's drawings and paintings.
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Table of Contents

Volume I: Preface to the second edition; Preface to the first edition; 1. Preliminary; 2. Childhood; 3. Engraver's apprentice; 4. A boy's poems; 5. Student and lover; 6. Introduction to the polite world; 7. Struggle and sorrow; 8. Meditation: notes on Lavater; 9. Poems of manhood: Songs of Innocence; 10. Books of prophecy: Thel, Marriage of Heaven and Hell; 11. Bookseller's journal; 12. The Gates of Paradise, Visions of the Daughters of Albion, The 'America'; 13. The Songs of Experience; 14. Productive years: Europe, Urizen, The Song of Los, Ahania; 15. At work for the publishers; 16. A new life; 17. Poet Hayley and Felpham; 18. Working hours: Letters to Butts; 19. Trial for sedition; 20. South Molton Street: Letters to Hayley; 21. The Jerusalem and the Milton; 22. A keen employer; 23. Gleams of patronage; 24. The designs to Blair; 25. Appeal to the public; 26. Engraver Cromek; 27. Years of deepening neglect; 28. John Varley and the Visionary Heads; 29. Opinions: Notes on Reynolds; 30. Designs to Phillip's Pastorals; 31. Fountain Court; 32. Inventions to the Book of Job; 33. Hampstead; and youthful disciples; 34. Personal details; 35. Mad or not mad; 36. Declining health; Designs to Dante; Mr. Crabb Robinson's reminiscences; Notes on Wordsworth; 37. Last days; 38. Posthumous; 39. Supplementary. Volume II: Selections edited by Dante Gabriel Rossetti; Poetical Sketches; Songs of Innocence; Songs of Experience; The Book of Thel; Ideas of good and evil; Prose writings; Annotated catalogue of Blake's paintings and drawings by William Michael Rossetti; Account between Blake and Mr. Butts; Lists of engravings; List of writings; Prospectus by Blake issued in 1793; Descriptive notes of the designs to Young's 'Night Thoughts' by Frederic James Shields; Essay on Blake by James Smetham; In memoriam F. O. Finch, by Samuel Palmer; Memoir of Alexander Gilchrist by Anne Gilchrist; Index.

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