English poet, painter, engraver, and visionary.
Though he did not attend school, he was trained as an engraver at the
Royal Academy and opened a print shop in London in 1784. He developed
an innovative technique for producing coloured engravings and began
producing his own illustrated books of poetry with his illuminated
printing, including Songs of Innocence (1789), The Marriage of
Heaven and Hell (1793), and Songs of Experience (1794). Jerusalem (180420),
his third major epic treating the fall and redemption of humanity, is
his most richly decorated book. His other major works include The Four
Zoas (17951804) and Milton (180408). A late series of 22
watercolours inspired by the Book of Job includes some of his best-known
pictures. He was called mad because he was single-minded and unworldly;
he lived on the edge of poverty and died in neglect. His books form
one of the most strikingly original and independent bodies of work in
the Western cultural tradition. Ignored by the public of his day, he
is now regarded as one of the earliest and greatest figures of Romanticism.
of Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. 2003.