William Blake (28 November 1757 - 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker.
His work is notable for being at once highly religious and very critical of the established churches and traditions.
By most accounts, he suffered frequent bouts of hallucinatory madness which often served as inspiration for his work. He may have been schizophrenic. It's also been suggested that he had what is known as a bicameral mind, wherein information is exchanged between the subconscious and conscious mind in the form of visions of gods and spirits, supposedly more common in ancient peoples, rather than the more linear thought processes most peoples' brains have evolved. This could have been the result of a mental illness or brain defect of some kind.
Blake is also generally regarded as one of the earliest anarchists (e.g. by Peter Marshall in William Blake: Visionary Anarchist), and is also noted for opposing slavery and championing free love decades or even centuries before either became particularly common.
His poems include:
- Songs of Innocence and of Experience
- The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
- The Four Zoas (his longest, about 100 pages)
- The Tyger
William Blake in fiction:
- One of the protagonists of Deadman is a Blake fan, and quotes him extensively.