The William Blake Archive is pleased to announce the republication of our Blake Biography and essay on Illuminated Printing as digital exhibitions, an ideal form for such extensively illustrated works. They join our recently published first installment in this new wing, the multi-gallery presentation of Blake’s painting and engraving of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury pilgrims. They can be accessed through our About Blake section or Archive Exhibitions, lower left and upper right, respectively, on the Archive’s home page. 

The Biography, written by Denise Vultee in collaboration with the editors, was first published in 2003 in our About Blake section. Its 109 separate reproductions exemplifying the range of Blake’s artistic accomplishment made it the most generously illustrated Blake biography ever published. The updated exhibition version retains that distinction, with many of the works by Blake referenced in the text now linked to images in the Archive. The Biography’s seven sections—1757-1778 || 1779-1788 || 1789-1792 || 1793-1799 || 1800-1808 || 1809-1818 || 1818-1827—have been redesigned as galleries. Each gallery contains the same navigational features: text (with links to Archive objects and to images in the gallery space) scrolls vertically in the left frame, while the main right frame—the gallery space—scrolls horizontally through a set of images, each one accompanied by a caption.

Illuminated Printing, written by Joseph Viscomi, was first published in The Cambridge Companion to William Blake, edited by Morris Eaves, 2003. It joined our Biography, Chronology, and Glossary in the About Blake section in 2004. While the text remains the same, the digital version has 95 illustrations versus 9 in the printed version. The exhibition version has been updated to include links to the works by Blake mentioned in the text. 

The essay’s eight sections have been redesigned as galleries, with the illustrations accompanied by detailed captions that enable them to be examined as independent slide shows. The first two galleries, on engraving and new print technologies, examine the technical and aesthetic contexts in which illuminated printing was invented. The remaining six galleries demonstrate the stages of both Blake’s relief etching (“illuminated printing”) and conventional intaglio etching according to the six Chambers in the Printing House in Hell, from Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

We are also pleased to announce that Alexander Gourlay’s Chronology of the major events of Blake’s life and works has been updated. First published in The Cambridge Companion to William Blake, the Chronology has new entries and now includes links to the works by Blake mentioned in the text.

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