Recollections and appreciations of Morris Eaves from colleagues, friends, and the Blake community.

Robert William Rix, University of Copenhagen

It was not long after I finished my PhD that Morris emailed me about something. I can’t remember exactly what it was, but it was some kind of formal request or a question. As a young researcher, I was honoured that Morris had reached out to me but also felt a little nervous about how I would be perceived as the upstart that I was. So I wanted to make sure that my response was well considered.

I had not met Morris and only knew him as one of the most important people in Blake studies. At the time, I had a laptop that was in dire need of replacement. It had a wonky keyboard that seemed to have a mind of its own. One particular problem was that it would decide for itself when to press ​“Return.”

I was in the process of typing my response when—half a sentence in—the laptop decided to send the email to Morris prematurely. It was just a few opening words followed by blank space. Slightly flustered about the mistake, I thought it would be best to immediately follow up with an explanation. Little did I know that my keyboard would strike again. As I was typing the explanation/​apology, the email was sent containing only a sentence and a half. This happened a third time, this time breaking off mid-sentence. Morris must have been nonplussed about these messages piling up in his inbox. Not the kind of first impression I was hoping to make.

When I finally managed to write a whole message, it was with due apology for spamming (if that was even a word at that time) and a somewhat unconvincing assurance that this was not my usual level of professionalism.

I expected a delay due to our differing time zones. However, Morris replied more or less immediately and in the most understanding and light-hearted way. He told me in his email that he himself had struggled with a keyboard that would play tricks on him. I was relieved from reading this response, and all my panic about the gaffe vanished. I had not expected Morris to make a fuss about the strange emails, but his humorous reply put me completely at ease. Moreover, he used the occasion to start a conversation in the weeks afterwards, asking for my insights on other matters. I really appreciated that since I was still a young scholar. It was an unexpected bonus that my mishap was something he recognised and that it opened the door to further connection and exchange.

I knew Morris more in a professional capacity than on a personal level, but I think the way he handled the situation says something about his kindness and humour—and it meant a lot to me at the time.

Apart from this anecdote, I will remember Moris for his exceptional work and his impact on Blake studies. His magnificent contributions will serve as a lasting source of inspiration and influence for many years to come. He is dearly missed.

Robert N. Essick, co-editor, William Blake Archive

No one squeezed more joy out of life than Morris. From food and live theatre, from all the arts, from family and friends, from work and play. He was a great teacher, colleague, friend. His brilliant mind, honed to the soul of wit, did not cast others in shadow, for his personality was truly infectious. I always felt a little smarter in his presence—and often happier. You missed one of the delights of life if you never spent an hour or two with Morris and Georgia sipping dry martinis. His insight into texts was matched by his insight into people. At times he seemed to know me better than I know myself. Among writers on Blake, only Northrop Frye equaled Morris as a prose stylist. His wit (including the metaphysical sense) flashed through every sentence, even on topics that would draw forth nothing more than dry-as-dust verbiage from me.

It will be difficult for many of us to believe that one so youthful in spirit has departed. Morris remains with us through his written words and the joy he brought into the lives of others. Finally, what I remember most about Morris is not his accomplishments, nor even his wisdom, but love.

David Worrall, emeritus professor of English, Nottingham Trent University

I first came into contact with Morris way back, in the late 1970s. I was working as a school teacher in Newcastle upon Tyne and he was at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, a place which seemed impossibly glamorous compared to northeast, post-industrial England. Even then, Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly was burgeoning and I’d had a brief essay accepted about Blake’s Derbyshire, which I was thrilled with, especially as BIQ had already reached its very high production standards for reproducing photographs. He then asked me (by airmail letter, remember those?) to write a review of Joan Evans’s A History of the Society of Antiquaries, apparently published in 1956 but perhaps hanging around and, of course, with a splendid connection to Blake’s apprenticeship. It was my first ever review. I was so pleased—and, what’s more, I still have the book. Thereafter, The Counter-Arts Conspiracy: Art and Industry in the Age of Blake (1992) somehow came to me before William Blake’s Theory of Art (1982). They were both breakthroughs, truly groundbreaking studies, since, at that time, we seemed to lack an overall conceptual framework for considering Blake as a printmaker inextricably and willingly connected to a rapidly disappearing craft in lithography’s pre-dawn. The last article I had in BIQ, in 2022, was carefully overseen by Morris. Let us just say that not only did I benefit from his common sense, he saved me quite a few blushes by intercepting my inaccuracies and obscurities. I am shocked at his death because, to me, he was ageless, timeless. We met in person only a few times over the years, but always happily. So, for me, my lasting image of Morris is not so much “The Traveller Hasteth in the Evening”—with its hints of decline, but much rather the rebirth promised in “The Crystal Cabinet.” We were lucky to have him.

Barbara Cousin, PhD student, France

I was so sad when I read that Morris Eaves passed away. I thank him a lot for his help thanks to his works; I am doing a PhD and Morris Eaves is frequently quoted. Furthermore, without the William Blake Archive I could not be doing my PhD on Blake’s Visual Works. 

I feel very sorry for those who are lucky to have known him and worked with him. Special thoughts for the William Blake Archive team, and Dr. Essick and Dr. Viscomi.

Fernando Castanedo, professor of English, Universidad de Alcalá

I would simply like to express my condolences to our Blakean community, and to say that I am very sorry that he is no longer with us. I shall always remember him for his seminal scholarly productions and for the constant model of generosity and kindness that he was.

Angela Esterhammer, professor of English, University of Toronto

What sad news! Morris has been a central figure in Blake studies for as long as I can remember. His work opened my eyes to so much of Blake’s art and his age. With his long-time collaborations on the Blake Archive and Blake Quarterly, among much else, Morris leaves a truly meaningful legacy.

Nelson Hilton, emeritus professor of English, University of Georgia

My missing big brother materialized at the needful moment 44 years ago when I was 30 and trying, cluelessly, to begin a scholarly career. Morris was six years older and had agreed to let an unknown serve as review editor for BIQ. Over the next few years he offered a fraternal, jump-start mentorship sans pareil of wise guidance and nurturing encouragement. His many (pre-email!) letters signed, from the outset, with his vigorous and confident hand, “love, Morris,” showed that academics did not necessarily entail competition; his wry and astute remarks on various colleagues who took themselves too seriously opened a path to real pleasure in research; his compact liquor case when he and Georgia came once to visit brought a new dimension to travel; his indulgence with my labored attempts at review taught patience; and the invariable concluding epistolary update about his family confirmed always “that there may be more important things to do.” He was kindness and exuberance incarnate. I no longer remember the exact year long ago, but, once, each visiting London unbeknownst to the other, we intersected unexpectedly in the BMPR—it was and remains a pleasure as in a dream re-encountering an essential and undying presence.

Joseph Wittreich, Jr., emeritus professor of English, CUNY

It was so many years ago. Morris Eaves had broken upon the scene of Blake studies, I was eager to see him, meet him, and he was ever so obliging, arriving a bit tardily at a conference, toting his son Obadiah upon his shoulders. Or was Obadiah peering out from Morris’s backpack? Whatever, Morris arrived in an embrace of vision such as would become the hallmark of his entire career. He was a perfect match for the poet he idolized.

Christopher Hobson, professor of English, SUNY Old Westbury

I didn’t know Morris well, certainly not well enough to call him a friend, and so I’ve been trying to account for the enormous sense of loss I’ve felt since the news of his death. I think I met him only once, at the December 2000 Blake conference at Tate Britain, where we both presented papers. And I have known him more recently, as a BIQ editor on two articles and, I think, two manuscript-review projects. Part of the sense of loss is simply Morris’s warmth and humanity in all those contacts; part, of course, is shock when someone who one had assumed would be here for years in the future is gone, even if that person was nearly eighty. Another part is the enormous debt anyone working on Blake must feel for his work on the Blake Archive. But beyond these, what I feel, I think, is Morris’s joie de vivre and joy in working, which were apparent in casual exchanges and turns of phrase. At any rate, whenever I next have dealings with the journal, or simply access the Archive for any purpose, I’ll feel his absence very painfully.

Hüseyin Alhas, research assistant, Department of English Language and Literature, Social Sciences University of Ankara

The news of Morris Eaves’s untimely departure resonates with a profound sense of sorrow among all scholars dedicated to the study of William Blake. The loss of such an eminent figure in the realm of 20th-century studies on Blake is deeply disconcerting. This feeling of loss becomes even more poignant for those who had the honour of knowing him on a personal level. My own path crossed with that of Morris when I became part of the editorial team for Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly’s annual checklist of scholarship. Through this role, I came to know him as a figure of unwavering dedication, boundless helpfulness, and constant kindness. When I was deciding which critical works on Blake to translate into Turkish, his direction was invaluable, moulding my choices in this comprehensive task. 

The void left by Morris’s passing is akin to witnessing the dimming of a guiding star in the skies of Blakean scholarship. Yet, in the midst of this profound sadness, there is a sliver of solace to be found. Morris’s scholarly contributions, marked by their deep insights into the complex poetry of William Blake, will continue to serve as a guiding light for future generations of scholars. As we navigate the intricate pathways of Blake’s verse, Morris’s legacy will illuminate our understanding, ensuring that his intellectual beacon remains a steadfast presence in our scholarly pursuits.

Sandy Gourlay, Rhode Island School of Design

Chuck Ripley, professor of English, Winona State University

“On Remembrances We Want and Remembrances We Don’t”

Shit, Chuck, I don’t know what it means.

I had pointed out a thorny passage in The Four Zoas I couldn’t understand, and I was shocked that Morris, my dissertation director, would confess to not knowing what Blake meant.

But I was not shocked to hear Morris say shit, with a hint of his Louisiana twang.

You were proud of yourself if you could draw one of out of him because you had finally made him think of something he hadn’t before.

But more often you were afraid you’d hear,

Shit. You might want to find a dictionary and learn how to spell.

It’s been three weeks to the day since I got the email from Sarah Jones informing me of Morris’s unexpected passing, and I still can’t believe it. Even though he was the same age as my parents, Morris had always had a boyish energy and a wardrobe to match that made me feel that he was younger than I was.

I can’t help thinking of how Morris would have written this. How he would not only do the task set out before him but would also weave in a history of the genre of remembrances, noting how the genre was transformed by different technologies. Deftly, he would show how modern Blake scholarship emerged with genre, reminding us that Alexander Gilchrist’s Life of Blake was also a memorial for its author. How the professionalization of Blake studies in the 1960s and 1970s created a new audience for such remembrances and how the back cover of the Blake Quarterly became a memorial space until covers themselves ceased to exist. How remembrances moved to Hell’s Printing Press, which will be available, like other websites, only as long as it is maintained. Thus, he would show that expressions of grief and memory require updates, infrastructure, and collaboration, which will continue as long as anyone cares to care.

Morris cared enough to comfortingly pat my shoulder before my dissertation defense, but I don’t think that he would want a mushy remembrance. As contributors to the Blake Quarterly may know, and as his students definitely knew, Morris was an intimidating reader who never failed to show how flabby and inefficient your sentences really were.

I had the luck to work with Morris just as the Blake Archive was hitting its stride at the end of the last century, even though off campus I still had to unplug my landline phone to access it. Before most, Morris understood that digital humanities required collaboration, and he effortlessly fostered this spirit among his students. As a project assistant to the archive, I was introduced to such talented people as Matt Kirschenbaum, Kari Kraus, and Rachel Lee. He made us feel like collaborators whose opinion on whether the mark in copy E of Jerusalem was a semi-colon or an exclamation point really mattered.

I often spied Morris, the editor, unawares in the conference room adjacent to the English Department office, carefully considering pieces for the Blake Quarterly or The Cambridge Companion to Blake with a 3 x 5 card under his fingers. When Patricia Neill retired from the journal, Morris introduced me to the new managing editor, Sarah Jones, who had an office next to the graduate mailboxes and whom I got to see more regularly than Morris. She’d show me interesting essays coming out, and I watched her put together issues on her computer before the proofs got back to Morris. He’d slip the latest issue of the Quarterly in my graduate mailbox with a note.

*           *           *

If Morris didn’t always know what Blake meant, he spent his scholarly life explaining how Blake expressed it. In his graduate classes, he drilled us about different Romantic theories and their notions of the writer, the text, and the audience. At the time, I thought it was an overly simplistic approach, but I realize now that he was trying to instill in us his own clarity of vision regarding the basic mechanisms of artistic production.

The central theme of Morris’s scholarship was transmission—how an idea moved from the mind through a medium to an audience. He began working on this problem in his 1972 dissertation, “Blake’s Artistic Strategy,” and carried it through in his major works, William Blake’s Theory of Art (1982), The Counter-Arts Conspiracy: Art and Industry in the Age of Blake (1992), and, of course, the theory and praxis of the William Blake Archive. This approach is also found in his trenchant reviews, where Morris typically not only explicated the argument at hand but revealed (likely to the authors themselves) the underlying assumptions that enabled (or tripped up) the arguments in the first place.

Morris always sought to apply this lens to Blake studies itself. As seen in his edition of S. Foster Damon’s A Blake Dictionary (1988), he knew what was useful in Blake criticism and how to make it better. Morris’s 1982 special issue of Studies in Romanticism, with its interview of David and Virginia Erdman, gathered a community of scholars to wrestle with the state of Blake criticism and to imagine its future. When the future arrived, Kari Kraus’s twenty-year commemoration of that issue fittingly made Morris and his collaborators at the Blake Archive the new interview subjects, with Kari asking. Morris explicated the insights he had made in his 1995 article, “On Blakes We Want and Blakes We Don’t.” For him, these insights always began with his understanding of the difficulty Blake posed to readers. To ameliorate this, he brought together in his collection, The Cambridge Companion to William Blake (2003), what remains one of the best primers to Blake, and though his introduction is titled “Paradise the Hard Way,” the expert shepherding in his scholarship and teaching made the roads straighter for weary travelers.

Morris always understood how to produce new systems that worked. Younger scholars may not know of his role in stabilizing what was then the Blake Newsletter when he joined as its co-editor and secured funding from the English Department at the University of New Mexico (see Morton D. Paley’s “The Newsletter and the University of New Mexico”). Morris’s fifty-four-year collaboration with Morton shaped immeasurably how we study and discuss Blake and the high standards that scholarship must meet.

At the Blake Archive, Morris, along with Joseph Viscomi and Robert N. Essick, absolutely transformed every previous assumption about how to read and study Blake. No set of scholars has edited more facsimiles of Blake’s works, and each publication announcement is an essay equal to (if not supplanting) an entry or two in Bentley’s Blake Books. The archive has become the benchmark of excellence in digital scholarship. This is partly because Morris always seemed to be a few steps ahead of the latest advances in digital technologies and anticipated what these changes would mean for how texts and images would be presented to audiences.

In his last major essay, “The Editorial Void: Notes toward a Study of Oblivion,” Morris went one step further to engage with the relationship of editing to memory, loss, and, ultimately, death itself. He concluded that editors live everyday with oblivion. They make the best choices they can to preserve what they are able of the voices of the past, but they cannot preserve it all, and soon enough, editorial decisions will fall to others. This answer didn’t satisfy Morris, who, for once, admitted defeat: “I have not found a path to particularly unfamiliar editorial terrain” (537). But the essay also suggests that Morris knew well enough that his own voice would become that which is edited and remembered by those of us who remain.

The voice of Morris that I most hope will be preserved is found in a story told by a fellow graduate student, April Miller, who posted on Facebook after learning of Morris’s death:

I recall Morris telling me that he had plans to go to seminary when he was very young, and I asked, “What changed your mind?”

Well, shit, I fell in love.

D. W. Dörrbecker, erstwhile bibliographer [in his own words] for the Blake Quarterly

With the recent passing away of Morris Eaves I have—as have so many others—lost a dearly loved friend to whom I owe much more than I have ever let him know. My mournful thoughts go out to Georgia, Obadiah, Dashiell, and their families.  Morris’s broad scholarly learning, his editorial expertise, and his remarkably innovative criticism provided an inspiration and an intellectual role-model that I often tried to imitate, that I stole from more than once, but, of course, never was able to emulate.

When I visited Rochester, the Eaves family (and Patty Neill, former managing editor of the Quarterly) were eager to introduce me to the US-American “way of life,” complete with my first visit to a shopping mall, a trip to Niagara Falls (where Morris managed to smuggle me through the Canadian customs without a visa valid outside the US), and a tour of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (where we discussed Ellsworth Kelly and hard-edge painting before tasting hot Buffalo chicken wings). We attended the concert of an American marching band (allowing Morris to point out the fundamental difference between American and European brass band music), and, when it got loud in the basement at their house, Dashiell, Obadiah and their band mates made me listen to the first speed metal and shredding sounds I had ever heard. Georgia and Morris in turn introduced me to Lyle Lovett’s “post-modern” take on country music, to Bonnie Raitt or John Mellencamp, opening my ears for the style of popular music now classified as Americana. Moreover, in their kitchen they would teach me how to fix a decent guacamole dip and frequently demonstrated their phenomenal skills in the preparation of gorgeous Louisiana soul food.

My acquaintance with the twin editors of Blake/An Illustrated Quarterly (which was then still described as a “newsletter” in the journal’s title) was due to a series of unlikely coincidences. Back in 1970 Morton’s Energy and the Imagination appeared in print and would soon be recognized as required reading for any serious student of Blake. In that year I was about to finish high school, but was much more interested in blues and rock than in poetry and art. I had first met British blues musician Alexis Korner in 1968, and during an after-dinner conversation (which must have taken place in spring or early summer 1970), Alexis urged me to read Blake’s Marriage, from which he had quoted several of the “Proverbs of Hell.” At the same time Morris, though my elder by only a few years, must already have been working on his dissertation, submitted to Tulane University in March 1972, which offered an in-depth reconstruction of “Blake’s Artistic Strategy,” based on an exemplary study of the Marriage. From the beginning I was running far behind Morris, and yet in July 1970 I did buy my first copy of Sir Geoffrey Keynes’s edition of Blake’s Complete Writings and finally began reading—for pleasure only. Of course, I did start with those “Proverbs,” but all the rest was to follow in due time. Four years later David Bindman was organizing the first-ever retrospective of Blake’s art in Germany for the British Council which, in 1975, was shown at the Kunsthalle in Hamburg and afterwards at the Städelsches Kunstinstitut in Frankfurt. Though at that point I had been studying the history of art for no more than two years, but had read every book on Blake’s art and poetry that I could find in the university and museum libraries in Frankfurt and Hamburg, I was asked to join the exhibition staff as the translator for most of the English contributions to the exhibition catalogue and for all the separate entries describing the works on show. Having been introduced to Professor Bindman during the opening ceremony for the exhibition, I received his advice to subscribe to the Blake Newsletter—which I did and which led to my first contact with “Mor’n’Mor.”

During the 1970s and beyond David Bindman and his wife Frances Carey, then assistant curator at the British Museum’s Department of Prints and Drawings and for many years the Quarterly’s associate editor for Great Britain, played an all-important role for contacts between British students of Blake and their colleagues from North America. Long before the advent of the William Blake Archive, the grand tour of British collections with substantial holdings of Blake’s original prints, drawings, paintings, and manuscripts was considered a prerequisite for any serious research among Blake scholars from the United States and Canada. Therefore, during the summer months when studying in the BM’s Print Room, visiting the Blake Gallery at the Tate, or consulting materials in the Kerrison Preston Blake Library, one could be sure to run into one or many of the established stateside authorities of Blake studies as well as their younger colleagues at mid-career—or such absolute beginners as myself. Frances and David untiringly put the members of the international London Blake folk in touch with each other, and in 1976 that led to my first encounter with Morris, too.

Morris immediately imparted the impression of a youthful and open-minded, captivating and hugely likeable, flamboyant, joyous, and intellectually inspiring personality, one whose irradiant brilliance easily and instantly upset my biased view of the North American academic. Whereas I probably came across as a swollen-headed impostor, an over-ambitious, boastful, and precocious youth at the time, Morris appeared entirely undisguised, fearless, warm-hearted, and always ready for laughter. His approach (not only to Blake) was truly original, mine was mostly fake. And yet, half a century ago a German student of the history of art with an interest in Blake must have been considered a singularity; this questionable “bonus” probably helped a lot when I gradually got to know more and more of my peers in Blake scholarship. But Morris and Morton counted as the peers of my peers, so I was extremely happy when they took me into their confidence, from which eventually sprang such a long-lasting friendship.

Unfortunately, I never had a chance to attend any of Morris’s seminars. But he must have been a frank and demanding, and at the same time a most inspiring academic teacher, engaging and full of empathy for the needs of his students. As early as 1970, he was after “the real thing,” with plans for “Producing Shakespeare in the Classroom,” or he would show up in a seminar carrying an electric keyboard which, he told me, was incredibly useful for alerting his students’ attention to a poem’s metre and rhythm. Morris always seemed prepared to articulate his criticisms in a straightforward manner. Therefore, it is easy to imagine that he might have addressed his student audience with an attitude resembling that of Joseph Beuys, who is said to have confronted the participants in one of his tutorials with the chalkboard message “those who refuse to think will be thrown out [of the room].”

Each contributor to these pages will probably try to single out from the long list of Morris’s publications a book, an article, or an online resource which proved to be particularly influential for her or his own research interests. Blake’s Theory of Art, the William Blake Archive that he initiated and brought to triumphal fruition with co-editors Bob Essick and Joe Viscomi, and The Counter-Arts Conspiracy are likely to be named most often. Among these candidates I feel tempted to cast my vote for the latter. However, since we were asked for our personal remembrances, I must set apart an earlier publication which others may say was superseded by the two monographs Morris published in 1982 and 1992. Nevertheless, my entirely non-fake enthusiasm persists for “Blake and the Artistic Machine: An Essay on Decorum and Technology,” an article published by PMLA (vol. 92, no. 5 [October 1977]: 903-27).

This essay was based on a lecture Morris had delivered in Santa Barbara at an important UC conference on “Blake in the Art of His Time,” and I received a copy of his typescript by September 1976, shortly after we had first met each other in London. Reading this paper felt like a revelation for me. At that time the interpretation of Blake’s visual art was clearly dominated by the iconographic approach: identify the figures shown, describe the action they are engaged in, look out for parallels in Blake’s own poetry, and you will have established the meaning of the image. But what about the aesthetic qualities of the given image, what about the graphic style employed, what about pictorial space and the distribution of motifs on the picture plane, what about composition and—horribile dictu!—colour and colouring techniques? For the student of art history such questions were a major concern, and I felt unwilling to allow for mere content and full meaning to equate. In “Blake and the Artistic Machine” Morris seemed to share (and he definitely fostered) such discontent by focusing on the artist’s production processes as “technology,” by exploring the formation of the artist’s personal style, by recognizing form and style—i.e., McLuhan’s medium—as an integral part of the meaning of Blake’s relief and line engravings. The article had a liberating effect on me at a time when I felt insecure about whether or not it seemed feasible to pursue my vague ideas for a dissertation in the field of Blake studies, and it proved vastly influential for my own subsequent attempts to grasp Blake’s achievements as a pictorial artist.

In June 1977, a few months before “Blake and the Artistic Machine” appeared in print, BIQ published a list of Continental Blake publications as part of my review-essay “Blake Goes German.” This may have been responsible for the decision of the journal’s editors to appoint me as an assistant to help Thomas L. Minnick with the compilation of his annual “Checklist of Recent Blake Scholarship.” I knew how to follow the MLA’s rules for citation, but otherwise possessed near to no bibliographical qualifications at all. My first contributions to Tom’s list of Blake-related publications must have been very slight indeed; the entire report for 1976–77 took up no more than five pages in print. Anyway, between 1977 and 1981 I served four years of apprenticeship under Tom’s calm and generous guidance. By the following year, I was “promoted” to act as Tom’s co-compiler of the checklists. Moreover, when Tom, who had acted as BIQ’s bibliographer since 1976, decided to step down from that position in 1986, Morris and Morton asked me to be his successor.

Why they did so remains an enigma to me, and I can only speculate that other more accomplished and more eloquent candidates—e.g., Mary Lynn Johnson—simply were not available to accept the obligation to compile the checklists on an annual basis. With Morris at the head of the journal’s production office, the following years brought me in into much closer contact with him than before, and I definitely made him—as well as Patty, the managing editor—put up with serious trouble: not meeting deadlines; changing the original format of the checklist by adding annotations to many of its items, which occasionally grew into miniature reviews; the need for considerable copyediting in order to guarantee the accessibility of my awkward use of the English language; and so on. Why in the world did Morris and Morton allow me to pump up the modest annual checklists of recent publications (five pages long when I joined Tom as an assistant in the 1977 issue, fifty-five pages by 1991) to achieve such monstrous proportions? I cannot be too grateful for their tolerance, for the helpful criticisms of my annotations, and for the constant support I received during those years. Whereas I was living on the outskirts of the Blake-speaking world, Morris worked at its very centre, so we did not meet very often. Due to the geographical void that separated me from Rochester and because of my waning interest in Blake studies, our friendship more and more resembled a long-distance relationship over the past thirty years. And yet our sympathy and the mutual respect felt for each other never vanished. It is dreadfully hard to grasp, and harder still to accept, that what should have lasted so much longer ended when death came and took Morris away from his loved ones and from the large community of his friends and fellow Blakeans. Farewell and shine on, my dear friend.

David Bindman, Emeritus Durning-Lawrence Professor of the History of Art, University College London

Morris Eaves was the best company in the world. He had a fund of hilarious stories, exuberant wit, and irreverent profanity. Time spent with him and with Georgia was an unfailing delight. We got to know them in London when they first came on sabbatical in 1976, then stayed with them in Albuquerque, New Orleans, and Rochester. Each visit was memorable, food featuring high on the list of entertainment. In Albuquerque he and Georgia introduced us to the Sanitary Tortilla Factory and in New Orleans Morris planned out each meal with military precision, from the beignets in the market when we arrived, through spectacular Cajun restaurants, ending in a wonderful Edward Hopper-like roadhouse on the way to the airport. In one rather pretentious place the maitre d’ insisted that Morris wore a jacket and made him put on a huge specimen that completely dwarfed him. We all laughed so much that we barely ate a thing. I remember being in his office in Tulane and a hapless graduate student wandered in to be greeted by Morris with the words “What the furrrrck do you want?” He was also in hot water with his university for making a profane reference in a class which was reported to the authorities, in the person of an administrator called I think “Swede” Johanson, who met his match in Morris.

Every few years Morris and Georgia would spend a year in London, devoted to their twin passions, theatre and restaurants. They found amazing productions in all sorts of unlikely venues, methodically tried every cuisine available in places we would never have known about, and generally covered more culinary and dramatic ground in ten months or so than we shall in a lifetime.

Of course, Morris was a major Blake scholar, devoted to this very journal over many years. His leaning was more towards the literary side of Blake, mine to the visual and historical. He was a little suspicious of art historians and let me know it often in ribald terms, but his professed philistinism was an obvious front, and he could talk wonderfully perceptively about Blake’s art. He was a truly wonderful and well-rounded human being. I and so many other people are bereft at the thought we shall never be in his company again.

Joseph Viscomi, co-editor, William Blake Archive

Everyone who met Morris through his work on BIQ or WBA, talks at conferences, or publications came away impressed, knowing intuitively that this person is very special. Those who came to know him personally recognized immediately how sweet, kind, generous, authentic, witty, completely unpretentious, funny, and very, very smart he was. My first encounter was reading his brilliant and award-winning “Blake and the Artistic Machine” in 1977. I was just starting to take Blake seriously and was much impressed, thinking he must be one of Blake’s elder statesmen, writing so well and knowledgeable about Blake and the graphic arts. I was shocked when we met a few years later. He was so young! so boyish looking, simultaneously youthful and wise. Before we spoke a word about Blake, he began talking about Georgia and their wonderful and talented sons Obadiah and Dashiell, and I thought, I really like this guy, academic but so grounded and real—and he always remained so. “We” was his preferred pronoun.

Morris played a crucial role for nearly half a century shaping Blake studies. This Blake scholars the world over recognize. He improved every manuscript that passed through his hands, including mine, for which I am forever grateful, and no doubt the many hundreds that consulted his writings. He was also a first-rate scholar of book history, graphic art, editorial theory, and digital humanities. He was a superb and deeply informed critic of music, theatre, and film—and the best dinner companion one could ever have. He knew food and drink as well as he knew Blake, which is to say, deep, wide, and joyfully. Wherever we were—New Mexico, New York, Brooklyn, London, Dublin, Galway, Chapel Hill, Durham, Ithaca, Rochester, Toronto, Baltimore, Washington, Charlottesville, or Los Angeles—he picked the restaurants; we relied on him doing so. He came prepared. Long before Yelp and Google, there were foodie newsletters and he subscribed to many. He and Georgia were gourmet cooks. They planned travel itineraries around food, from first-class restaurants to crab shacks and taco stands; their road trips to Charlottesville and Chapel Hill for our annual “Blake Camp”—when the editors and staff meet to take care of Archive business—are things of legend.

Morris did and was a great many things, but what I see first is his loving soul, his being a wonderful husband and father, devoted grandfather, and beautiful friend. His grandkids called him “Big Daddy,” as did my kids. He loved his students and had no plans of retiring, though he was to turn 80 in May. And I see and smile at so many little things that marked the man: he loved coffee and seemed to always have a cup (large) in hand, could drink espresso (often double) at night after a dessert, hot sauce on eggs for breakfast (he carried his own little bottle with him), knew the secrets of the best martinis, the differences among smoked paprikas, was an aficionado of wine and BBQ and doo wop and southern fried chicken and sushi. I loved working with him because he was brilliant and because he always knew that life was more than work—that nothing is worth taking seriously if it is not fun. I don’t know anyone who loved life more or who lived so full and wonderful a life as Morris. He always radiated that gusto and I’ll miss him always.

Jason Whittaker, College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities, University of Lincoln

For all his incredible work on promoting Blake scholarship, and for his participation in establishing what would become the single most important tool for people working on Blake and digital humanities more generally, the Blake Archive, Morris has loomed very large in my life. But there is one minute particular which bears responsibility for completely transforming nearly everything I have done in the past twenty years. At the turn of a new century, I had taken up a job in Cornwall and was coming to terms with teaching in an art school that had a very different ethos to the eminently respectable—and much more traditional—university where I had completed my PhD. I was surrounded by painters, printmakers, illustrators and dramatists who recognised a like-minded soul through my love of Blake, but who had a very different approach to him compared to the literary academics I had worked with previously. This was the time of a large retrospective of Blake’s works at Tate Britain, the promotional materials for which claimed that there were more artists working under the influence of William Blake than anyone else. I was gradually becoming aware of the scale and significance of Blake’s posthumous legacy when I read Morris’s “On Blakes We Want and Blakes We Don’t.”

That single, short essay was world altering for me. It did not say that anything goes, but it pointed out—with astonishing honesty that I had not really encountered before in a piece of writing by an academic—that if Morris believed in Blake’s systems, it was as much because of the faith of Blake’s interpreters post-Northrop Frye who encouraged him to believe that there was a system to be perceived. From this moment onwards, I began to chart the Blakes that I and others wanted—and, indeed, didn’t want, curious as to how these multifarious Blakes were created and transmitted to later generations. When I began communicating with Morris as the century started to settle into its turbulent ways, it was no surprise to me at all that the author of such an honest, open, and warm-hearted piece was himself an incredibly generous man, encouraging and equally warm in everything he said. There are many, many Blake scholars and authors whose shoulders I’ve stood on to see further, but there is only one who turned me to face an entirely new direction.

Tristanne Connolly, associate professor of English Language and Literature, University of Waterloo

When Blake was consoling Hayley for the loss of his son, he wrote, “Thirteen years ago. I lost a brother & with his spirit I converse daily & hourly in the Spirit. & See him in my remembrance in the regions of my Imagination. I hear his advice & even now write from his Dictate” (to Hayley, 6 May 1800).

Since Morris left us, I have found myself missing him daily. I turn to the Blake Archive: there’s Morris. I turn to the Blake Trust editions: there’s Morris co-editing The Early Illuminated Books. I look up a topic and find a bunch of articles from BIQ: there’s Morris; and then I see there’s also a chapter in The Cambridge Companion to William Blake: there he is again. I recommend Damon’s Blake Dictionary to my students: there’s Morris editing that too.

Though I don’t have the privilege of claiming a close personal friendship with him, I feel like I have been conversing with Morris in the Spirit, hearing his advice, and writing from his prompting for as long as I have been studying Blake, which is a good long time now. This is not only because of his manifold and generous editing work which has given us all of those essential resources. At the beginning of my doctoral research I read William Blake’s Theory of Art, and Morris’s theorization of the bounding line and identity became fundamental to my thinking; in it I heard the voice of a wiser kindred spirit articulating what I dearly loved, even passionately believed in, about Blake’s work. Next I read The Counter-Arts Conspiracy, and the extension of that theorization to pixels blew my mind. Little did I know I would later spend most of my career at a tech university and Morris’s pixels would be with me still, helping me and my grad students think about Blake and digital media. And little did I know I would have the great blessing to be invited by two of the people most inspiring to my work, Morris and Morton, to work with them on BIQ.

It seems to me very apt that Morris would be the one to fathom what individual genius means for Blake, because of the individual genius he brought to his own work, and the genuine appreciation he gave to the individual genius of others. I think this is a main source of the unique combination of incisiveness and kindness in his criticism. Los figured, “I must Create a System, or be enslav’d by another Mans” (J 10.20), but Morris was amazingly able to understand all of the different systems he encountered—all of them! artistic, technological, commercial, theoretical, critical, editorial, etc.—sympathetically from within and critically from without at the same time.

In Vision I can see Morris and Blake meeting and embracing in Eternity; how glad Blake must be to welcome such a friend who understands him so well; and how much they must both be delighting in conversing together in Visionary Forms Dramatic. Of all people, I think Morris would be especially good at that.

Silvia Riccardi, postdoctoral researcher, Umeå University

When David Bindman and I first met in London five years ago I was doing archival work on Blake. It was Morton Paley who encouraged me the year before in Berkeley to go and see the originals before wrapping up my dissertation. And he was right, I learned a great deal and was humbled by the sheer amount of material. David mentioned that Morris Eaves was soon going to be in London for a short visit, though I was supposed to be back in Germany by the date of his arrival. At that point I made up my mind about extending my stay. There was too much Blake still to cover and Morris was on his way. Only one important detail about our meeting was left: “Sorry to see that Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa in Piccadilly has closed. That would have been an easy choice for brunch.” Morris found an alternative with great food where we talked about culinary and Blake matters. He suggested places for finding more Blakes and the best restaurants in Soho. Speaking with Morris felt like learning from a brilliant mind, yet at the same time it was like chatting with a dear friend about a common passion.