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Sinclair-Stevenson, 1995 - Literary Criticism - 399 pages
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Peter Ackroyd discloses the true nature of Blake's life and art. He traces his progression from early childhood in a Dissenting household, through his apprenticeship as an engraver and his studies at the newly formed Royal Academy Schools, to his full maturity when he produced the masterpieces upon which his reputation rests - works such as Jerusalem, Milton and Songs of Innocence and of Experience, works that were as neglected during his lifetime as they are celebrated today. But we also see Blake in the context of his period; we see him caught up in the Gordon Riots, excited by the French Revolution, being tried for sedition during the Napoleonic wars, attracted to various forms of spiritual radicalism and sexual magic. This is the first biography to reveal the true affinities between Blake's art and his poetry; in the magnificent biographical narrative we see Blake as a Cockney visionary and a London tradesman, as a prophet and an artisan.

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User Review  - the.ken.petersen - LibraryThing

A hundred pages into this book, I was questioning my total acceptance that anything written by Peter Ackroyd would be superb. By the time that I reached the end, I was sad to be leaving an old friend ... Read full review

BLAKE: A Biography

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Ackroyd's biography of William Blake represents an achievement of composite method fully in the poet's own spirit—it's a work so sensitive to its subject, it seems to have conjured him from the ... Read full review


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O why was I bom with a different face?

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About the author (1995)

Peter Ackroyd was born in London in 1949. He graduated from Cambridge University and was a Fellow at Yale (1971-1973). A critically acclaimed and versatile writer, Ackroyd began his career while at Yale, publishing two volumes of poetry. He continued writing poetry until he began delving into historical fiction with The Great Fire of London (1982). A constant theme in Ackroyd's work is the blending of past, present, and future, often paralleling the two in his biographies and novels. Much of Ackroyd's work explores the lives of celebrated authors such as Dickens, Milton, Eliot, Blake, and More. Ackroyd's approach is unusual, injecting imagined material into traditional biographies. In The Last Testament of Oscar Wilde (1983), his work takes on an autobiographical form in his account of Wilde's final years. He was widely praised for his believable imitation of Wilde's style. He was awarded the British Whitbread Award for biography in 1984 of T.S. Eliot, and the Whitbread Award for fiction in 1985 for his novel Hawksmoor. Ackroyd currently lives in London and publishes one or two books a year. He still considers poetry to be his first love, seeing his novels as an extension of earlier poetic work.

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