1794 - Blake publishes Songs of Innocence and Experience

Although Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience sold fewer than 30 copies in his lifetime, it is widely regarded today as a seminal work in the fields of writing and the visual arts in the Romantic Age. Blake was able to divide his artistic talents between the visual and the verbal owing to his apprenticeship to an engraver at the age of 14, where he learnt not only the skills of the profession, but also how to illustrate his own poetic works. In Songs of Innocence and Experience Blake explores his ‘prophetic vision’ of the interdependence of good and evil, and uses his poetry as a tool in order to facilitate political change. Blake’s outrage at child labour, his struggles against the oppression of Church and State, and his resilience to social conformity make his poetry some of the most compelling reading from the Romantic period.

Blake’s frontispiece for Songs of Innocence and Experience, 1794