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William Blake

Selected Writings

Edited by Peter Otto

Publication Date - November 2022

ISBN: 9780192868053

864 pages
8.5 x 5.4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $20.00


This volume in the 21st Century Oxford Authors series offers students and readers a comprehensive selection of the work of William Blake (1757-1827). Accompanied by full scholarly apparatus, this authoritative edition enables students to explore Blake's poetry, illuminated poetry, and prose alongside selections from his letters, manuscripts, notebook, advertising pamphlets, marginalia, and works he printed in conventional letterpress.

The edition arranges Blake's works in chronological order, according to the date when they were first printed or, in the case of unpublished works, the years in which they were composed. With the help of editorial headnotes and annotations, this arrangement brings to the foreground Blake's material and intellectual labours as a poet, painter, prophet, and non-academic philosopher; the networks of acquaintances, friends, patrons, and enemies who helped support or provoke this work; and the tumultuous historical events he responded to, which included the beginning of modern feminism, the agricultural and industrial revolutions, the American and French Revolutions, William Pitt's so-called 'Reign of Terror' in Britain, an attempted revolution in Ireland (1798), a successful slave rebellion in Haiti (1791-1804), and the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. Some editions attempt to sanitize Blake, by hiding from view the most startling elements of his thought; but in this edition Blake's sexual, political, religious, and poetic heterodoxy comes into full view.

At the same time, this edition foregrounds the dynamics of Blake's composite art, with equal weight given to its verbal and visual dimensions; makes visible the chief lines of force that structure his oeuvre; and highlights his developing thought on sapphism, sodomy, the body, relations between the sexes, the roots of violence, and the politics of imagination. This is a Blake whose dialogue with his own time anticipates much later developments, including modern depth psychologies; analyses of the social and psychological dynamics of war and peace; interest in the body, sexuality, and gender; and experiments in the relation between actual and virtual realities—a Blake who is provocative, unsettling, exhilarating, and somehow our contemporary.

Explanatory notes and commentary are included, to enhance the study, understanding, and enjoyment of these works, and the edition includes an Introduction to the life and works of Blake, and a Chronology.


  • Introduces students to the life and work of William Blake, the prolific Romantic poet and artist
  • Features 120 black and white illustrations
  • Includes a selection of Blake's letters, manuscripts, notebook, advertising pamphlets, marginalia, and other lesser-known works
  • Blake's work is presented in chronological order, allowing students to study his development and growth
  • Includes a separate Chronology at the opening of the volume, which provides details of Blake's life, and the composition and publication of his works
  • The poems and writings are presented free of annotation on the page, allowing students to encounter the original texts afresh
  • Explanatory notes and commentary are located at the end of the book, providing students with a wealth of additional material and information that will enhance the understanding and enjoyment of these works
  • An essential teaching resource, representing Blake's work in all its variety

About the Author(s)

Peter Otto, Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor, University of Melbourne

Peter Otto is Professor of Literature at the University of Melbourne and a member of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He teaches and researches in the literatures and cultures of modernity, from Romanticism to the new media of today. His recent publications include Entertaining the Supernatural: Animal Magnetism, Spiritualism, Secular Magic and Psychical Science, an online collection of primary texts (2007); Multiplying Worlds: Romanticism, Modernity, and the Emergence of Virtual Reality (OUP 2011); and 'Innovations in Encompassing Large Scenes', an online exhibition housed in the Romantic Circles Gallery of Visual Culture (2013). He has published two books on William Blake, both with Oxford University Press, numerous articles on Blake, Romanticism, and Gothic Fictions, and is currently completing a monograph on 'William Blake and the History of Imagination: Poetry, Prophecy, and Secularization'.

Table of Contents

    List of Illustrations
    From Poetical Sketches (1783)
    [An Island in the Moon] (c.1785)
    From Annotations to Lavater's Aphorisms on Man (1788)
    All Religions Are One (1788)
    There Is No Natural Religion (1788)
    From Annotations to Swedenborg's Heaven and Hell (1784; notes c.1789)
    Songs of Innocence (1789)
    The Book of Thel (1789)
    From Annotations to Swedenborg's Divine Love and Divine Wisdom (1788; notes c.1790)
    From Annotations to Swedenborg's Divine Providence (1790; notes c.1790)
    The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790)
    From The Notebook (c.1791-93)
    Visions of the Daughters of Albion (1793)
    America a Prophecy (1793)
    To the Public [Prospectus] (1793)
    From The Notebook (c.1793)
    For Children: The Gates of Paradise (1793)
    Songs of Innocence and of Experience (1794)
    Europe a Prophecy (1794)
    The First Book of Urizen (1794)
    The Song of Los (1795)
    The Book of Ahania (1795)
    The Book of Los (1795)
    From Vala or The Four Zoas (1797-c.1807)
    From The Notebook (c.1797-99)
    From Annotations to Watson's An Apology for the Bible (1797; notes 1798)
    From Annotations to Bacon's Essays (1798; notes c.1798)
    From Annotations to The Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds (1798; notes c.1798-1809)
    Letters [1799-1800]
    From Annotations to Boyd's Translation of the Inferno (1785; notes c.1800)
    Letters [1802-3]
    Memorandum in Refutation of the . . . Complaint of John Scolfield (August 1803]
    Letters [1803-4]
    From The Notebook (c.1803-04)
    Milton a Poem (c.1804-1811)
    [The Pickering Manuscript] (c.1805-07)
    From The Notebook (c.1807-09)
    Blake's Exhibition (1809)
    From Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion (1804-c.1820)
    From [A Vision of the Last Judgment] (1810)
    From [A Public Address to the Chalcographic Society] (c.1810)
    Europe, Title page (late revisions, c.1815-20)
    From Annotations to Spurzheim's Observations (1817; notes c.1818)
    Letters [1818]
    The Everlasting Gospel (c.1818)
    For the Sexes: The Gates of Paradise (1820)
    Annotations to Berkeley's Siris (1744; notes c.1820)
    From Annotations to Wordsworth's Preface to The Excursion (1814; notes 1826)
    From Annotations to Wordsworth's Poems (1815; notes 1826)
    From Annotations to Thornton's The Lord's Prayer (1827)
    Letter [1827]
    On Homers Poetry and On Virgil (c.1820)
    The Ghost of Abel (1822)
    [Jehovah]& his two Sons Satan & Adam [The Laocoön] (c.1826-27)
    List of Abbreviations
    Index of Titles and First Lines