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William Blake 1757-1827. Some information…. He lived in London for his whole life, except for a gap of three years Poet, painter and printmaker Unrecognised during his lifetime (many considered him ‘mad’!)

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some information
Some information…
  • He lived in London for his whole life, except for a gap of three years
  • Poet, painter and printmaker
  • Unrecognised during his lifetime (many considered him ‘mad’!)
  • After his death his work was appreciated. He is considered an important figure of in the history of poetry and the visual arts
poet and artist
Poet and Artist

Blake is also famous for his artwork

He made many relief etchings and prints. These complimented his poetry

What do you think of when you look at some of his etchings???

blake and religion
Blake and Religion…
  • Blake was very spiritual and was a strong believer in God.
  • He was frustrated by the Church as an institution, and the rules and hypocrisy it supported.
  • He believed that the Church exploited the teachings of God for their own benefit
  • Blake believed that those in power played on the perceived FEAR of God, and the ideas that greater suffering results in greater heavenly reward, in order to exploit the lower classes and to decrease their responsibility for their actions.

What was happening when Blake was writing?

Types of revolution?

How were they positive/negative?

Links to America and France?

List your ideas



It was a time of REVOLUTION! Blake was sympathetic towards the French Revolutionaries. He was influenced by both the French and American Revolutions. He believed that the system was corrupt

Blake critiques the hierarchical nature of early 1800’s English society – believing the Monarchy (royals) and the Aristocracy were exploiting those beneath them.

He looked towards the American system with a sense of hope – even though he detested their racism

Blake had a strong voice in criticising the government – more so than we see in modern times; however, remember his work was often overlooked as his contemporaries considered him slightly mad!


The INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION had a huge impact on society. Blake believed the rise of capitalism caused more suffering

  • Whilst many were excited about it, and the opportunities it provided, Blake believed it diminished people’s minds and hearts and that it caused increased suffering...many small factories had to close, poor working conditions...

What are your thoughts about our current day social structures?

How do your thoughts link to Blake’s?

List 5 ideas


Blake demonstrated the economic hardship many suffered through the contrast of innocence and experience

  • Again, he connected it to making the upper classes richer, through their exploitation of the working classes
  • The pollution he wrote about was linked to the smog of the factories, as well as being a metaphor for polluting society’s morality.
  • Blake condemned the social structure, conveying his despair and frustration that the rich were getting richer whilst the poor continued to suffer.

Are women treated equally in society now?

How are they perceived in different societies?

  • List 4 ways they have gained more equality with men
  • List 4 ways they are still not equal

The role of women

  • Blake often discussed the roles of women in his poetry – society’s fear of their sexuality , the restrictiveness of women’s sexuality, his support of free love, (the influence of Mary Wollstonecraft on these ideas)
  • He explored the negative perception of women enjoying their passion and desires
  • The critiqued the expectation (and desire) for women to marry and to have children, even though it could cause unhappiness and entrapment
  • Many of the poems which discussed women also looked at the idea of fear and jealousy within relationships
songs of innocence and experience

Songs of Innocence and Experience

Animals, Children and Nature were used to symbolise innocence, sadness and fear


Remember back to last year – Blake wrote dual poems:

one from the perspective of innocence, and a correlating poem (same topic) from the perspective of experience

This series made up the collection titled ‘Songs of Innocence and Experience’


Blake wrote a number of books (collections) of poems. You will be studying poems from his different books…

poems you will study what a list
Poems you will study – what a list!

From Poetical Sketches (1783)

Song (How sweet I roam’d from field to field)

Visions of the Daughters of Albion (1793)

From Songs of Innocence (1789)

The Lamb

The Little Black Boy

The Chimney Sweeper

Infant Joy

From Songs of Experience (1793)

The Sick Rose

The Tyger


Infant Sorrow

From the Pickering Manuscript (1805)


Auguries of Innocence pg. 403

From The Four Zoas (1797 – 1805)

What is the price of Experience pg. 407 (35:11 – 36:13)

From Milton (1804; c. 1810-18)

And did those feet in Ancient Times pg. 144 (1-16)