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BLAKE TRUST CHAIRMAN’S REPORT
We reproduce below the complete text of The William Blake Trust “Chairman’s Report to Members and Patrons”:
The new William Blake Trust was incorporated in January 1983 as a “company limited by guarantee,” under the same name as the former Trust. The Company assumed the responsibilities and obligations of the old Trust in April 1983 and the first meeting of the Council of Management was held on 21 April. The Members of the Council are David Bindman, Duncan Robinson, Lord Cunliffe, who kindly agreed to act also as Treasurer, and myself as Chairman. John Commander was appointed Executive Director and Secretary.
The other Members of the Company are all former Trustees: namely, George Goyder, who became Chairman after the death of my father in July 1982; Mrs. Joan Linnell Burton, who was Secretary for many years; Graham Reynolds; and Peter du Sautoy, whom we would particularly like to thank for the time, care and impetus which after the death of Arnold Fawcus he devoted to the old Trust as its Secretary and, perforce, as its Executive. To all of the former Trustees the Council of Management of the new Trust is deeply grateful for the concern and support that they gave over the years to the affairs of the Trust. We hope that as successors we shall follow their example, though we can hardly hope to match what the Trust achieved in their time.
It is gratifying that the Trust in its new form continues to enjoy its association with Philip Hofer, Paul Mellon and Charles Ryskamp, who agreed to be translated from Associate Trustees to Patrons; and earlier this year Robert Essick accepted our invitation to become an additional Patron. The term Patron which has been assigned to our trans-Atlantic associates may be thought curious, but for us its meaning is clear: we are fortunate to enjoy the benevolent regard of a very distinguished group of American cognoscenti and devotees of Blake. We shall do our best to live up to such support.
We are pleased to have associated with the Trust, two of the leading Blake scholars in Great Britain and the United States, David Bindman and Robert Essick, as a Member of the Council and as a Patron respectively. I would also like to pay tribute to the patience and perseverance of John Commander, who sorted out the difficult and complicated problems involved in re-establishing the Trust so that it can under his able and expert management act as publisher of its own books and direct its efforts to the consideration of possible new directions for the Trust’s contribution to the knowledge and understanding of Blake.
We are now in a position to be able to direct our efforts to completing the publication of work in hand and to considering the future development of the Trust’s work. The first year and a half of the Trust’s activity has been largely concerned with—and to some extent inhibited by—the protracted negotiations involved in reaching a satisfactory agreement for the mutually desired termination of the role of the Trianon Press as publishers to the William Blake Trust. I am pleased to be able to tell you that this complex business has now at last been settled. The Agreement was signed on 16 July 1984 thereby bringing to an end a relationship which over a period of more than thirty-five years resulted in the creation, thanks to the energies, skill and begin page 127 | persistence of Arnold Fawcus, of a series of publications whose effect in disseminating an awareness of and receptivity to William Blake and his work must have exceeded even the highest hopes of the Trust’s founding fathers. It is sad that Julie Fawcus was unable to continue the Trianon Press and to see her husband’s last work for the Trust through to publication, but we hope that the Trust’s assumption of these responsibilities under the direction of John Commander will ensure the satisfactory completion of this phase of the Trust’s activity.
The delay in unravelling the relationship of the Trust with the Trianon Press has not prevented a great deal of work being done to prepare the substantial texts and commentaries which will accompany the plates and illustrations of the Book of Job. David Bindman has taken on editorial responsibility for the book and the work will be greatly enhanced by Robert Essick’s contribution of a definitive catalogue raisonné. There is no doubt that when it is published Job will sustain the standards of fidelity and the quality of earlier Blake Trust publications and will make a new and authoritative contribution to Blake studies. Completion of this major publication is now our first priority and the hope is that Job will be issued in 1985. We shall then turn to the Samuel Palmer project for which the plates are printed but which present some difficult problems needing to be solved before they are brought to a satisfactory[e] state for publication.
Job is a large and expensive project and, except for Samuel Palmer, the Trust does not at present have further publications in prospect. Dr. Haven O’More has assumed responsibility for The Island in the Moon and the Trust has indicated its readiness to be associated—though without obligation—with the publication when it is eventually issued. The Phoenix to Mrs. Butts, an unknown poem by Blake for which my father had written a commentary before his death, was published in the Times Literary Supplement on 14 September 1984, and it is being issued as a book by the Cygnet Press to whom a small loan has been made by the Trust to assist with the costs of printing and publication, supplemented by donations from George Goyder and my father.
The accompanying accounts show that the Trust’s finances at the end of 1983 were in reasonably satisfactory shape. They have subsequently been further improved through the addition of £10,000 to the Trust’s resources from the repayment by the Trianon Press of the loan contributed by the Pilgrim Trust towards the cost of Job. However, the Trust is about to move into the heavy expenditures involved in completing Job and until this is accomplished we must regard our funds as being fully committed. We are by no means over-endowed, though we hope that there will be a satisfactory return from sales of Job when it is published and that this will provide the Trust with funds to fulfill its obligations and to provide a basis for continuing and developing its activities.
18 September 1984