The William Blake Archive is pleased to announce the publication of electronic editions of There is No Natural Religion Copies A, D, and M, from the British Museum, Houghton Library, and Victoria and Albert Museum respectively. They join Copy B, from Yale Center for British Art, Copy C, from the Library of Congress, and Copies G1-2 and L, from the Morgan Library and Museum. The Archive now has all seven extant copies of this illuminated book, making There is No Natural Religion the sixth illuminated book with its entire publishing history reproduced in the Archive, joining The Song of Los, Milton a Poem, All Religions are One, The Book of Ahania, and The Book of Los. The Archive will add The Marriage of Heaven and Hell to the list later this year. There is No Natural Religion was composed and executed in 1788, shortly after All Religions are One. These were Blake’s first works in illuminated printing, though no copy of either work survives from this date. Blake composed twenty plates for There is No Natural Religion plates in two antithetical sets (a and b series). Only Copy L consists exclusively of the ten b series of plates. The other twelve recorded copies of this book share impressions of the same group of either eight or twelve plates, which appeared to be merely incomplete sets of impressions until it was discovered that six of these copies were 19th-century reproductions. Once the inauthentic impressions were weeded out, it became apparent that what remained was Blake’s selection of a and b plates for an abridged version of the work printed around 1794.
With the publication of There is No Natural Religion Copies A, D, and M, the Archive now contains fully searchable and scalable electronic editions of 95 copies of Blake’s nineteen illuminated books in the context of full bibliographic information about each work, careful diplomatic transcriptions of all texts, detailed descriptions of all images, and extensive bibliographies. New protocols for transcription, which produce improved accuracy and fuller documentation in editors’ notes, have been applied to all copies of There is No Natural Religion in the Archive. With the Archive’s Compare feature, users can easily juxtapose multiple impressions of any plate across all or selected copies of this or any of the other illuminated books and, with the Virtual Lightbox, users can examine any images in the Archive, as well as crop, zoom, and juxtapose them for close study.
In addition to illuminated books, the Archive contains many important manuscripts and series of engravings, color printed drawings, tempera paintings, and water color drawings, including illustrations to Thomas Gray’s Poems, water color and engraved illustrations to Dante’s Divine Comedy, the Linnell and Butts sets of the Book of Job water colors and the sketchbook containing drawings for the engraved illustrations to the Book of Job, the water color illustrations to Robert Blair’s The Grave, and all nine of Blake’s water color series illustrating the poetry of John Milton.
In December 2014, the Archive launched a new wing, which contains searchable HTML and PDF editions of thirty-nine past issues of Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly published from 2000 through 2009. PDF versions present the journal as originally published, but the HTML versions are re-implemented with many full-color images from the Blake Archive, making it possible for users to link directly to those works that have been published in the Archive.
As always, the William Blake Archive is a free site, imposing no access restrictions and charging no subscription fees. The site is made possible by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with the University of Rochester, the continuing support of the Library of Congress, and the cooperation of the international array of libraries and museums that have generously given us permission to reproduce works from their collections in the Archive.
Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi, editors
Joseph Fletcher, project manager, Michael Fox, technical editor
The William Blake Archive