In 2014 the Blake Archive added a new wing devoted to searchable HTML and PDF editions of back issues of Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly. Today’s publication—all 40 issues from the 1970s—is the final big installment of the Archive’s ongoing project of making freely available, and fully searchable, over four decades of the journal, thus making public some of the most important scholarly work done in Blake studies over the past half century.
Over the course of the 1970s the journal published Robert N. Essick’s 160-page “Finding List of Reproductions of Blake’s Art” (summer-fall 1971), which provided unprecedented access to Blake’s visual art. The cover of the winter 1974-75 issue featured the first color illustration—with, inside, an ambitious double foldout of The Characters of Spenser’s Faerie Queene—to anchor John E. Grant and Robert Brown’s extensive essay on the painting, with an elaborate key to the characters in the painting and many enlarged details (8.3, winter 1974-75).
The journal’s penchant for lists began to appear in such publications as G. E. Bentley, Jr.’s finding list of the British Museum Blake collection, Ruth Fine Lehrer’s finding list of the Lessing J. Rosenwald collection (9.3, winter 1975-76), and Robert N. Essick’s annual review of Blake sales, “Blake in the Marketplace,” which first appeared in 1972-73. Arguments mentioned in the very first issue of 1967, about the dating and sequence of the two Nights the Seventh of The Four Zoas, resurfaced in a special issue on Blake’s formidable manuscript (12.2, fall 1978). Morton D. Paley’s fundamental essay on Blake and Swedenborg appeared in fall 1979 (13.2). And in 1970-72 comments by John E. Grant, in his two-part essay on Blake’s Arlington Court picture (sometimes called The Sea of Time and Space), spawned a discussion with John Beer and Irene Chayes that persisted for more than a year. Discussion and debate became frequent features-under a now familiar Blakean rubric: “with intellectual spears, and long winged arrows of thought.”
“Newsletter” became “illustrated quarterly” in 1977, and the price of a subscription went up to $10 (for individuals) the next year. Thomas Minnick (Ohio State University) became the journal’s bibliographer, helping to turn the quarterly’s annual checklists of Blake scholarship into a regular feature.
The 2017-18 volume year of Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly is its fifty-first, available only to subscribers. Future updates to the Blake Archive’s back issues will occur volume by volume as those fall outside the five-year window reserved for subscribers.
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, managing editor, Michael Fox, assistant editor
The William Blake Archive