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BLAKE IN BRITAIN 1988

The Blake Society at St. James’s, Piccadilly, London presented two lectures and an exhibition for the summer of 1988. The exhibition, which ran from 31 May to 9 June, was based on enlarged photographs of Copy Z of Songs of Innocence and of Experience, accompanied by notes by Dr. Stanley Gardner. Gardner gave a two-part lecture on “Blake about the Children of Westminster” (Tuesday, 9 June), concerning a short-lived experiment in childcare undertaken in the 1780s in the vicinity of St. James’s church. The first lecture dealt with Blake’s closeness to these developments while the second lecture looked at Songs of Experience as a reaction to the tragedy of polite nannying and calculated deprivation. The other lecture, given by Professor Bo Lindberg (Tuesday, 31 May) on “William Blake and the Incarnation: The Oneness of Invention and Execution,” discussed Blake’s attitude to the human body and form, the relationship between invention and execution—with reference to Michelangelo begin page 31 | back to top and Janet Warner’s William Blake and the Language of Art. The Blake Society hopes to hold an autumn series of activities. Membership is by voluntary donation; the address is The Blake Society at St. James’s, 197 Piccadilly, London, W1V 9LF.

The Brighton Festival in Sussex (6-29 May) was to have included a program of songs based on Blake’s works but, unfortunately, the recital had to be canceled. The works listed in the program included familiar Blake pieces by Vaughan Williams and Benjamin Britten but also the first performance of a setting of “The Voice of the Ancient Bard” by Tony Hewitt-Jones.

The “Fourth Informal William Blake Congregation” was held on Thursday, 30 June 1988. The congregation is a twice-yearly forum for open readings and contributions on visionary subjects. The June session took place at the Bel and Dragon Hotel, Cookham, Berkshire at 1 p.m. to coincide with the birthday of the English painter Stanley Spencer, who lived in the village.

The Swedenborgian Church is celebrating the tricentenary of Emanuel Swedenborg’s birth in 1688. In the U.K. there is a year-long series of lectures, meetings and exhibitions. The catalogue of events lists various publications by or on Swedenborg, usually at a very modest price. Teachers of Blake who, like me, would like to get beyond the Emanuel-Swedenborg-was-a-Swedish-theologian stage might be interested in a wall chart which summarizes Swedenborg’s life and work or a broadsheet which is more detailed but less visual. Both are free and available on receipt of a large stamped, self-addressed envelope 12¾″ × 9″ (address below). Also available are an illustrated tea towel and a cardboard cutout model of a Swedenborg-designed flying machine (the latter is also the subject of a lecture by Henry Soderborg, “The Early History of Flight and the contribution of Emanuel Swedenborg”). Books, souvenirs and wall-charts are available from New Church House, 34 John Dalton Street, Manchester, M2 6LE, England. (David Worrall)

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