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G. E. Bentley, Jr. Blake Books. Annotated Catalogues of William Blake’s Writings in Illuminated Printing, in Conventional Typography and in Manuscript and Reprints thereof, Reproductions of his Designs, Books with his Engravings, Catalogues, Books he owned, and Scholarly and Critical Works about him. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977. Pp. xii + 1079. £40 U.K., $88 U.S.

The first impression is one of sheer overwhelming size and of the Herculean effort that must have gone into this book’s production. Have we really churned out enough Blake criticism since 1964 to increase the enchiridion dimensions of the Bentley & Nurmi Bibliography to over one thousand pages? Not quite. Blake Books is far more than an updating of its predecessor, for it supplies vast amounts of information in areas not even touched upon in its prototype. Most significantly, Bentley has written a new census of the illuminated books. There may be some initial resistance to replacing the familiar and more elegantly printed pages of the Keynes & Wolf Census with this bulky new bibliography. Some may grumble over the format, particularly the use of densely packed charts, but the amount and diversity of material require complex packaging. In the long run, Blake Books will be accepted as the standard bibliography in its field and will remain so for many years.

When reviewing a work of this magnitude, one serves little purpose by setting down general evaluations based on a casual overview or the spot checking of a few entries. The slower and less showy work of correction and augmentation is far more important. My intention is to deal with each of the six sections of Blake Books in turn, plunging as quickly and deeply as possible into those minute particulars which form the heart of any bibliography.


Bentley explains the organization and coverage of the volume in the eleven page Introduction. He has “examined every original copy of Blake’s works which could be located, in some ninety collections ranging from Edinburgh to Auckland” (p. 9). Thus Bentley has no doubt inspected more copies of Blake’s writings than anyone else—save for their author. He has replaced the “perfunctory descriptions” of Blake’s writings in Bentley & Nurmi with “the results of work on the originals” (p. 11). A final “Postscript” (p. 14) notes that “the body of the text” includes entries to the end of 1970, but that “most important works published by June 1974” have been either added to the main sequence of entries or gathered in the fifty-page “Addenda.”

The thirty-six page survey of Blake’s reputation and interpreters takes the same broad, long-range perspective provided by the earlier version in Bentley & Nurmi. The emphasis is on objective summarizing and pointing out the acknowledged high-points, but Bentley sometimes reveals his own wry evaluations: “In Blake studies, at least, there is an unfortunate connection between an inclination to make psychological interpretations and scholarly incompetence” (p. 48). Two points need correction. The monochrome facsimile of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell edited by Clark Emery (Miami, 1963) does not reproduce the Blake Trust facsimile of copy D (as Bentley states, p. 38 n. 3), but the Dent facsimile (1927) of copy I (I warned you I was going to get minute). As far as I understand the genesis of the Blake Newsletter and Blake Studies, it is not in fact true that the latter was established “in imitation” (p. 49) of the former. The founding editors of Blake Studies tell me that they had already announced their first issue before they learned of the existence of the Newsletter.

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1 Plate 13, “Psyche Repents,” in George Cumberland, Thoughts On Outline, 1796.   Blake after Cumberland. Plate-mark 12.4 × 16.1 cm. Author’s Collection.


In the most important, and longest, section of his book, Bentley gives us complete bibliographic descriptions of all of Blake’s writings, including the letters and those prints bearing inscriptions that are more than just titles. A considerable amount of information on the illuminated books, either ignored or treated summarily in Keynes & Wolf, is now available, including individual plate sizes,

2 Plate 6 in Cumberland, Thoughts on Outline, 1796.   Designed and engraved by Cumberland, inscriptions probably engraved by Blake. Plate-mark 11.9 × 22.7 cm. Note the similarity of the letters of the imprint to those in Illus. 1 and the left-pointing serif on the g of Design’d. Author’s Collection.
watermarks plate by plate, leaf sizes (width followed by height—the reverse of the conventional order in print catalogues), binding history, offsets, original numeration, and stab-hole measurements. Bentley has traced and described a good many copies and fragments of copies not in Keynes & Wolf, and eliminated a few conjectural copies by identifying them with known ones. This last improvement was made possible by more thorough recordings of provenances. Valuable information is also provided on pairs of designs with identical plate-mark dimensions, thus indicating that Blake used both sides of his copperplates in most cases. The printing dates of many copies have been revised in light of a more thorough consideration of the sequence of variants than that provided by keynes & Wolf. Although this considerably alters the printing sequence for many titles, and some past assumptions about Blake’s development as a colorist, the old, familiar letter designations are retained, for which we should all be thankful. Plate numbering is different for many titles since Bentley has numbered all copies continuously, whereas Keynes & Wolf sometimes use roman numerals for front-matter. In the plate numbering begin page 180 | back to top of Milton, Bentley and Keynes & Wolf are the same, but Erdman’s Illuminated Blake uses a different sequence, and Erdman’s Poetry & Prose and Keynes’ Writings yet another. For Jerusalem, Bentley, Keynes, and Keynes & Wolf are all in accord, following copy E; but Erdman follows copies A, C, and F. All this can cause a good deal of confusion, and we should take pains to make clear which system we are using in each case. The best long-term solution will be to take Blake Books as the standard.

A similar set of problems confronts us in line numbering. The usual practice has been to number each plate individually, but for most illuminated books Bentley numbers the lines in one sequence for the whole work, excluding preludia. For “The Song of Liberty,” the “line” references (for example, in Blake Books pp. 290, 297) are not to lines at all, but to Blake’s numbered sentences, all but three of which take up more than one line. Happily this clumsy method, requiring one to count through a whole poem to find one of Bentley’s references, is suspended for Milton and Jerusalem, and of course each poem in Songs of Innocence and of Experience is separately numbered. I suspect that Bentley will use the same, albeit inconsistent, system in his forthcoming edition of Blake’s writings, and this should make it easier to look up a line reference in Blake Books.

For each plate, Bentley gives a part-line incipit followed by a brief description of the design. These should be used only as identifying notes on major design elements; Bentley makes no attempt to number every streak on every tulip. Comparisons between Erdman’s descriptions in The Illuminated Blake and Bentley’s—a game I will not play here at any length—show once again that there is no such thing as a completely objective description of a picture. We are also given a good deal of information on coloring, particularly of people and their dress. These notes offer both nourishment and correction to those interested in the pursuit of color symbolism.

Bentley also deals with variants between copies of the same illuminated book—a problem which, as he reminds us in the Introduction (p. 9), is extremely tricky. Let me set down a few of my own conclusions about this important issue, based on examinations of Blake’s prints and on my own etching and printing of relief plates. Traditional bibliography, based on the study of typographic printing, is incapable of dealing with many elements of printing from relief blocks. The bibliographer must give way to the chalcographer, and the first great truth he must utter is that no two impressions from Blake’s copperplates printed in relief are identical. In relief printing, unlike intaglio, the ink spreads over large areas relative to the total size of the image. The larger the area, the greater the chance for accidental, uncontrollable, and visible variations in texture and color. Such factors as ink viscosity, humidity, and air pressure can affect the appearance of each impression. Far more than with modern inking rollers, Blake’s inking balls made it easy to under-ink, or completely miss, small relief plateaus, over-ink others, and foul bitten areas. Because of these inevitable and uncontrollable differences between all impressions, it is important to keep in mind the following five distinct types of variants, listed in descending order of chalcographic significance:

  1. Changes made in the plate. These have great significance since they take conscious effort to execute and have a high degree of permanence. Erasing black lines (i.e., increasing bitten areas) is easy; adding black lines is difficult, although not impossible. Alterations of this type are the only ones which affect the “state” of the plate.

  2. Conscious alterations in inking or color printing the plate. These can take two basic forms: (a) Deletion of words or design elements by masking (as with the last four lines on America pl. 4 in copies B-F, H-M, R, a), by wiping the ink off (as with the plate edges in almost all of Blake’s eighteenth-century impressions), or by failure to ink certain areas. With simple failure to ink it is sometimes difficult to determine whether the change was purposeful or not. If the area is completely uninked (not just smudged) and is discrete—that is, limited to particular motifs and words surrounded by well inked areas—then the failure to ink probably took conscious effort. (b) Alterations in inking color, texture, or directional wiping (as in Jerusalem copy F).

  3. Conscious addition or elimination of design elements or text with ink or watercolors on individual impressions after printing.

  4. Pen & ink work or coloring on individual impressions after printing which does not add new lines not on the copperplate, or subtract them, but only underscores or tints what is already there.

  5. Accidental variants in inking or coloring, including foul inking of whites, incomplete wiping of ink from whites, the running of watercolor washes beyond bounding lines, and other countless minor variations of all sorts.

Bentley properly deals almost exclusively with categories 1-3 in his lists of variants. It is important to indicate, however, which type of variant one is describing in each case, and Blake Books sometimes fails to do this. Individual problems are dealt with below.

Bentley brings us to similar difficulties with categories in his notes on drawings related to designs in the illuminated books and, in Part III, in commercial book illustrations. There is a considerable difference between a true preliminary drawing and an analogue. It is often important to make a further distinction between analogues produced prior to the design in question and those produced later, particularly when tracing the development of a motif through Blake’s career. It is frequently difficult to make these distinctions in each individual case, but the bibliographer-chalcographer should seek the aid of the art historian and give it a try if he is going to delve into the matter at all. Bentley’s notes hover between a list of preliminaries and a list of analogues, the latter sometimes masquerading as the former. For example, on p. 86 we find that “there are sketches on Notebook pp. 75 (top right), 77 begin page 181 | back to top (bottom), and 17 [should read “71”] related to designs on [America] pl. 7, 11, 14.” Here, “related to” must mean different things for each plate, for the sketch on Notebook p. 71 is a preliminary for The Gates of Paradise pl. 17 and no more “related to” America pl. 14 (to use Bentley’s new numbers) than the engraving; the sketch on p. 75 and the man and snake on America pl. 7 are variations on the same motifs but pictorially quite different; and the prone infant on p. 77 is much closer to the one in Night Thoughts, p. 23 of the engravings, than to America pl. 11. In his notes on Europe pl. 10 (p. 153), Bentley states that the “sketch for the three bottom figures appears on Notebook p. 25.” But this sketch is no doubt a rejected preliminary (numbered 32 del., 23) for a series of emblems that finally emerged as The Gates of Paradise. Bentley’s “for” could lead to a false impression about the development of these important motifs which make their first appearance in a water color of c.1779, usually called “Pestilence” or “Plague,”11 Repro. Blake Newsletter, 7 (1973), 4; collection of Donald Davidson. and then again in a slightly later water color of the same subject.22 Repro. Christie’s sale catalogue, 2 March 1976, no. 97; now Essick collection. Bentley mentions only the first water color. His wording is misleading when he notes (p. 254) that the verso sketch on the drawing of “Albion Rose” (Victoria & Albert Museum)33 Repro. Keynes, Drawings by Blake (1927), pl. 2. is “for” Jerusalem pl. 76, and again when he states that the wash drawing44 Repro. Keynes, A Bibliography of Blake (1921), facing p. 220. Keynes also presents this as a preliminary for The Grave, and my “finding list of reproductions of blake’s art,” Blake Newsletter, 5 (1971), is also guilty of the misleading “for.” of a battlefield scene in the collection of the Earl of Crawford & Balcarres is “for” “The Counsellor, King, Warrior, Mother & Child in the Tomb” among the Grave illustrations. In each case, the design referred to is an early appearance of the motifs in question, but is in no sense a preliminary “for” the later work. In light of these art-historical complexities that can take many sentences to explain fully, the best recourse for the bibliographer may be to avoid preliminary and analogue lists altogether.

What follows is a list of additions and corrections to Part I, intermixed with a few longer discussions or queries about particular points. I have not added material outside the scope of Bentley’s coverage, nor fussed over minor and subjective disagreements on color or descriptions of designs. Except where I question a point or simply indicate an area where more work must be done, I have a good deal of confidence in my corrections to all parts of Blake Books. They are based on examinations of the original materials involved or high quality reproductions when these are sufficient. Many of these corrections are minor, to say the least, but the importance of Bentley’s book warrants a microscopic perspective. Unless indicated otherwise, all page- and entry-number references and quotations are from Blake Books. Those interested only in a general overview of Blake Books can precede directly to the last paragraph of this review. “And after this warning,” as Fielding puts it, if the reader “shall be of opinion that he can find enough of Serious in other parts of this history, he may pass over these, in which we profess to be laboriously dull.”

“The Accusers,” no. 1, p. 76. Bentley gets the order of the first two states backwards. The first state in the Bodleian (Bentley’s copy B) is followed by the untraced second state (copy I in Bentley’s list at the top of the page, but called “A” in footnote 1) known through its description in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts 1891 catalogue. This sequence is confirmed by the presence of fragments of the second state inscriptions on the third state but not on Bentley’s second state, which therefore must be the true first.55 The proper sequence was first pointed out by Erdman in “The Dating of William Blake’s Engravings,” PQ, 31 (1952), 337-43; rpt. in The Visionary Hand, ed. Essick, pp. 161-69. In the first printing of Erdman’s Poetry & Prose (1965), p. 660, the states are reversed, but by the fourth printing (1970) this has been corrected. Keynes, Separate Plates (1956), also gets it backwards. In “Dating Blake’s Script,” Blake Newsletter, 3 (1969), 8-13, Erdman proposes a date of 1803 or earlier for the final state, but like Bentley I would put it considerably later. The second state (not the third, as Bentley has it) resides beneath the Rosenwald color printed impression, and presumably beneath the more thickly printed British Museum copy as well.

According to William Blake: The Painter as Poet, catalogue of an exhibition at the Swirbul Library, Adelphi University (1977), entry 15, a copy (previously unrecorded) of the third state is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

P. 77, copy G. Reference to Small Book of Designs should be to p. 356, not 236.

“Albion Rose,” no. 2, p. 78. The dating and sequence of states is wrong. The engraving beneath the Huntington color printed copy, and no doubt beneath the more thickly printed British Museum copy, is a first state lacking the inscription. There is no known impression of this state printed in intaglio. The “Albion” inscription was added c.1804 when the extensive burnishing and the worm and bat-winged moth were also added to the plate. In footnote 3, Bentley states that “Erdman, p. 804, guesses 1790-1 on the basis of the rightward, conventional terminal ‘g’ in ‘Giving’” as the date of the inscription. The only work by Erdman I can find with a reference to “Albion[e] Rose” on p. 804 is his edition of the Poetry & Prose, where he dates the inscription “1790 or early 1791” in his first printing of 1965, but changes this “to the late 1790s (or later)” by the fourth printing of 1970.66 Erdman, “Dating Blake’s Script,” argues for c. 1800-1803 for the “Albion” inscription. The images in the inscription (compare to Blake’s letter to Hayley of 23 Oct. 1804), the lettering style, and the development of Blake’s burnishing techniques all point to an 1804 date for the second state bearing the “Albion” inscription.

There is No Natural Religion, no. 3, pp. 80-81. Bentley indicates that all copies are color printed. With such small plates it is difficult to tell the difference between true color printing and the reticulated surface of thick watercolors that have dried quickly, and as Bentley notes (p. 84), “the colour printing in both works [All Religions are One and No Natural Religion] is very tentative.” But if he is right, then either all recorded copies were printed c.1795—a remarkable situation—or the usual dating of Blake’s color printing must be changed. Perhaps some of these small prints were made with colored inks or blotted hand coloring, and thus represent an early stage in Blake’s development of color printing techniques.

All Religions are One, no. 3, p. 85. The incipit recorded for pl. 2 is actually inscribed at the bottom of pl. 1. Bentley’s note that the angel on pl. 2 has “his right hand on the stone and his left on the old man’s shoulder” corrects Erdman’s “a winged angel, with arms around stone tablets” (The Illuminated Blake, p. 24).

P. 85, pl. 5. The man leans on his left hand.

P. 86, pls. 2-10. The Huntington copy includes begin page 182 | back to top pl. a2 (not a1) of No Natural Religion. This error also appears in the Table of Collections, p. 60.

America, no. 6, p. 86. Title: period follows 1793. P. 86, footnote 2. “The fact that the top lines of text on pl. 7 are curtailed by the design suggests that here at least the design was etched before the text.” I very much doubt that Blake “etched” text and design at different times, for this would require several extra steps of stopping-out and cleaning and would create many unnecessary problems in text-design coordination. He may, however, have painted the resist on the copper at different times. At any time prior to etching, any curtailment of text lines could be altered easily (by changing the design, or rewriting the text, or adjusting the left margin) if Blake had wanted to. Since the text had to be written or transferred onto the plate in reverse, the line breaks on the right margin had to be worked out well before etching. There is no way I can think of for telling which Blake painted on the plate first—design or text—from the evidence of line breaks or other spatial relationships between text and design. But it does tell us that Blake was willing to alter his text lines in order to make room for his designs, and I suspect that the reverse may also be true in many cases. Bentley makes this point in regard to Europe on p. 144, footonte 1, but his suggestion that “some of the design preceded the text” is not necessarily true.

P. 91, pl. 2 variants. “The printed cloud-line in copies A-M is absent in copies N-Q.” The cloud does appear in N, where it has been drawn in ink as Bentley notes, p. 93, and in O and Q the entire upper left corner is colored in so that the cloud line is still present as a bounding line. I have not been able to check copy P. We need more information here on whether these variants are in printing or in subsequent hand coloring.

P. 92, pl. 14 variants and p. 97, pl. 14. “There seems to be a coiled serpent inside the door in copy O.” This “serpent” is actually a partially rolled woven mat of the sort pictured in Blake’s white line etching of “Death’s Door” and in Schiavonetti’s copy engraving.

P. 92, pl. 1. There is no “plant at bottom right,” only a plant-like relief decoration in the stone.

P. 93, pl. 3 incipit. First letter of “daughter” is lower case.

P. 94, pl. 5. Which “P” in “PROPHECY” is the terminus for a cloud line, and which for flames, in copy A?

P. 94, pl. 6. The leaf of America sketches in the BMPR has a hesitant line that suggests a copy and makes the attribution to Blake questionable.

P. 95, pl. 7. The figure holding a sword is probably a man, not a “long-haired woman.” His hair is hardly longer than that of the “flying man [holding] a balance.”

P. 96, pl. 10 incipit. First letter of “terror” is lower case.

P. 96, pl. 11. There is no corn-field “left of the text”—only swirls of crosshatching quite distinct from the wheat below the text.

P. 96, pl. 12. The flames reach up the left (not right) margin.

P. 97, pl. 14. Reference should be to Notebook p. 71.

P. 98, pl. 16. It is clear from copy I that only one line of text was deleted on the plate.

Pp. 98-99, pl. a. “ . . . there are no birds above or below the ‘Y’ of ‘PROPHECY’.” There is one below “Y,” and two above and to the left of the first “P.” “The only surviving copperplate from Blake’s works in Illuminated Printing is a fragment from the top right corner of this rejected plate from America.” The fragment is from the right margin extending from the lower part of the “Y” of “PROPHECY” to mid-way in line 6. In the quoted text on this fragment there is a comma or period at the end of the third line. The deletion marks noted by Bentley are of two types. The two horizontal scratches through part of the first line may well be part of a purposeful deletion; but the vertical gouges, too haphazard and deep to be text deletions, through the right side of lines 4-5 were probably created after the plate was cut up and at least this one piece given to young Butts.

P. 99, pl. d. “If it was intended for America, there must have been text or design cut off at the bottom.” It seems far more likely that it was cut off at the top where the fragmentary text appears.

“Ancient of Days,” no. 10, pp. 108-10. Even though this plate bears no “writings,” the colored impressions are listed in a separate section here. Uncolored impressions not bound in copies of Europe are listed on p. 161. On p. 148, Bentley suggests that the “Ancient of Days” was printed from a different plate than the Europe frontispiece—hence the separate entry for it. There are indeed two plates of this design, but not quite in the way Bentley has it. One colored impression in Keynes’ collection (Bentley’s copy C, p. 107)77 Repro. Keynes, Separate Plates, pl. 16. has rather different cloud outlines, larger crosshatching patterns in the clouds on both sides of the figure’s extended arm and in the upper right corner, fewer but bolder lines of radiance below the clouds, a shorter beard on the figure, and a central disc measuring 10.3 cm. in diameter—a full 6 mm. greater than in all other versions I have measured. The differences among all other impressions can be accounted for by differences in inking and coloring. The fractional differences in plate-mark, given by Bentley, can be accounted for by paper shrinkage (a phenomenon Bentley takes note of on p. 67) and are no greater than variances (1 to 2 mm.) between separate colored impressions themselves. All the separate colored impressions of the “Ancient of Days” were printed from the same plate as the Europe frontispiece—with the single exception of the Keynes copy described above.

The Book of Ahania, no. 14, p. 113, pl. 1. The man does not have “his head on his knees.” The woman looks up, but not “at him.”

The Book of Thel, no. 18, p. 123, pl. 4 variants. The tree is not “extended up the right margin in copy O.” A second tree trunk is added to the right margin but it extends no higher than its companion.

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Descriptive Catalogue, no. 32, p. 135, title-page. “by” follows “Printed” and “J. Blake” is in roman letters.

Europe, no. 33, p. 141, title-page. Copies a, C-E, H-I, and L have a colon after “Blake.” P. 149, pl. 1 variants. “In the proofs, the clouds by the god’s right knee are not hatched (a), there is no division between clouds at the top middle (a), . . . and the top cloud impinges on the sun at the left (Keynes pull).” In copy a, the clouds have considerable hatching, but it does not extend as far towards the left margin as in the finished state, and the division between clouds is present although not clearly printed. The top cloud does not impinge “on the sun at the left” in the Keynes uncolored impression, which is not a proof.

P. 149, pl. 2 variants. There is now a further proof with sketches in the Pierpont Morgan Library.88 See Charles Ryskamp [and Thomas V. Lange], “A Blake Discovery,” TLS (14 Jan. 1977), 40.

P. 150, pl. 3. “The only trace of decoration is a little foliage at the foot.” There is also a fly left of the vegetation.

P. 151, pl. 6. The sphere with a crouching man is not invariably yellow.

P. 153, pl. 9 state 2. There are also additional white lines added to the smoke.

P. 153, pl. 11. A proof in copy a lacks the white line hatching in the area just below the leg, from upper thigh to calf, of the woman closest to the viewer.

P. 154, pl. 14. The man’s ears are not “long” or “pointed” on the plate, but in copies B and C the inner sides of the pointed vaults on either side of the man’s head have been transformed into giant ears through tinting with flesh-tones. I can discern no difference in the sex of the two angels. P. 156, pl. 18 variants. In copy a, there are white lines “on the right ankle of the man.”

“Exhibition of Paintings,” p. 164, title-page. The “y” in “By” (fifth line) is a small capital.

The First Book of Urizen, no. 38, p. 166, title-page. There is a period after “1794” (colored out in copy G). “The logical, consecutive nature of the narrative is emphasized by chapter- and section-numbers and by running heads.” It seems to me that Blake has set up a tension between these mechanical, Bible-like divisions and his non-consecutive narrative as a formal embodiment of the conflict between Urizen and the Eternals. P. 167. Pl. 15 would also “seem to be etched over other designs, as the odd swirls in copy D suggest,” but I am not certain about pl. 20. In copy D the coloring does not correspond to relief surfaces, but this does not necessarily mean that fragments of an earlier etching lie beneath pl. 20.

P. 176, pl. 13 incipit. First letter of “Nostrils” is a capital.

P. 177, pl. 17. “The whole page is a design of a (?female) figure with long hair and a Red skirt (but no top) who holds her ears as she bends towards us over a flaming sphere.” In the note on “Colouring,” the figure is called “Enitharmon.” Erdman, The Illuminated Blake, p. 199, claims (rightly, I think) that the figure is Los and that the globe is not “flaming” but pendant on veins of blood. The disagreement here calls into question Bentley’s contention that this is one of “many . . . designs” in Urizen which “illustrate the text more literally than was often Blake’s custom” (p. 166).

P. 178, pl. 21 variants. “Enitharmon has her right hand in the small of Orc’s back” in copy B as well as A. The cloth she holds is absent from A.

P. 178, pl. 22 variants. In copy G, the tears are on his cheeks, not “in his eyes.”

P. 179, pl. 24. “ . . . across the middle of the page floats a man with his hands raised to shoulder level and a Red swirl coming from his chest.” The swirl is not visible in copies B, D, G, and is probably just a highlighted cloud-line elsewhere.

Variants: the top-most figure’s arms are not visible in copy B. The reference to “Fuzon” and “Grodna” are somewhat mysterious since these figures are not located by name in the design description. According to Erdman, The Illuminated Blake, p. 206, they are the figures at top and lower right.

For Children: The Gates of Paradise, no. 43, p. 185, title-page. No apostrophe after “Pauls.” p. 187, pl. 1 variants. There is “shading above the chrysalis” in the first state.

P. 191, pl. 18. “ . . . on the ground to the right are the profiles of two or more men the same colour as the earth.” In reference to a monochrome intaglio print, “colour” traditionally means the linear patterns that create tone, but on this plate these patterns are not the same on the faces and the ground.

For the Sexes: The Gates of Paradise, no. 45, p. 199, pls. 5 & 7. There are intermediate states between Bentley’s first and second in copy D. On pl. 5, copy D has most of the work on the figure and the hatching lower left of the final state, but lacks the additional hatching on the rocks lower right and a few strokes on the man’s arms. On pl. 7, there are more scales on the figure’s loins than in the first state, but they do not extend as far up his belly as in the final state. This intermediate state also lacks many fine lines on the figure. Blake seems to have tinkered with For the Sexes to the end of his life.

P. 205, no. 48. The limited edition of the Blake Trust Facsimile includes five extra plates from copies G and L.

The French Revolution, no. 48, p. 205, title-page. Period after “FIRST.”

The Ghost of Abel, no. 51, p. 207. A previously unrecorded copy of pl. 1 only, now in my collection, is printed in black on a sheet of unwatermarked wove paper measuring 24.5 × 34.5 cm. P. 208, pl. 1 incipit. “THE” is in what might be called small capitals, “GHOST” is in larger letters, and “ABEL” is still larger. The problem here is a good example of the frequently encountered difficulty in reducing Blake’s etched texts to typographic forms and the conventions of begin page 184 | back to top descriptive bibliography based on them. This, I suspect, is just what Blake wanted.

P. 209, pl. 2. The “horizontal figure in a fur skirt” does not lean “on the ground” but rests on the chest of another figure prone on the ground.

Inscription on a title-page design for Blair’s Grave, no. 58, p. 213. A colon follows “Designs.” All words and numbers are italic except “Grave,” which is followed by a period.

An Island in the Moon, no. 74, p. 223. “There is no context for p. A, and the immediately preceding pages may have been removed because they reveal too directly or too inaccurately Blake’s secret method of Illuminated Printing.” This seems unlikely because the surviving fragment says nothing about relief etching and is probably just a gentle parody of Cumberland’s notions about engraved writing in intaglio.

Jerusalem, no. 75, p. 224, title-page. Period after “W” visible in copy C.

P. 224, footnote 2. “Forty-two of the 52 (or more) copperplates needed for Jerusalem could have been formed from the centres of Blake’s engravings for Young’s Night thoughts [sic] (1797) left blank (except for p. 65) for the typeset text.” This is very unlikely. The standard eighteenth-century practice was for the publisher to purchase the coppers in which he retained all rights after engraving. If Blake did acquire the plates, he could not have made use of the unengraved centers without cutting through the surrounding areas. This would have produced a pile of odd pieces of copper and would have been far less economical than scraping and burnishing the engraved areas to make use of the whole plates.

P. 231. “Of these designs [in Jerusalem], those on pl. 1-2, 11, 26, 35, 37, 51, 53 and 76 are in White line; that is, they are engraved in the ordinary manner, but with Blake’s method of intaglio printing. . . .” Pl. 46 should be added to this list, and pl. 28 is largely white line. They are basically etchings, not engravings, and printed in relief, not “intaglio.”

P. 232, footnote 9. Bentley states that the catchword on the BMPR proof of pl. 53 was “altered ineffectively to ‘In’ in all other copies.” I cannot find this catchword in reproductions of copies C, D, or E, and on p. 250 Bentley states that the “catchword is gone in all” but the BMPR proof.

P. 238, pl. 1 variants. “The traveller’s fingers [in the second state] extend through the central cone of light in B, not just through its rays as elsewhere.” The fingers can be seen within the disc in copies A, C-F, and I (I have not checked H). In B the entire hand can be seen within the disc (perhaps a sphere—but why a “cone”?).

P. 239. The states listed 4-5 lines from the bottom of the page are of pl. 4, not pl. 5 as a printer’s[e] error makes it seem.

P. 244, pl. 25. The plate exists in three states. The first (copies A-C, and the Preston proof now in the National Gallery of Art, Canberra) lacks the black squiggle lines on the rocks (below and on each side of the central figure) and around the head and arm upper right, and also lacks the contour lines on the legs and torso of the woman on the right, all added to the second state (copies D, E). In the third state (copies F, H, I, and no doubt posthumous copy J) there is further black line shading on the rocks and in the upper right corner, plus additional white line work in the hair of the top and right women. Bentley mentions none of these interesting white and black line additions, some probably made by engraving white lines and printing in relief from the burr.99 Alterations in this plate were first discussed, although without due regard for mere printing differences, in Deirdre Toomey, “The States of Plates 25 of Jerusalem,” Blake Newsletter, 6 (1972), 46-48.

P. 244, pl. 26. Line break after “ME” in quoted text.

P. 246, pl. 36 incipit. Apostrophe in “return’d.”

P. 246, pl. 37, note on line 1. “The first six words are engraved (not etched) in intaglio . . . ” The words are in relief, for if they were in intaglio they would print white like the last three lines and the ampersand. Whether engraved or etched is hard to tell, but Bentley may be right since the letters appear to be relief plateaus remaining after surrounding areas were scraped or gouged away with a tool.

P. 247, pl. 40 incipit. Apostrophe in “shudder’d.”

P. 248, pl. 46. The Tonner copy of “God Judging Adam” is now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

P. 248, pl. 47. The quoted incipit is not “deleted” (but there is a deleted line above it) and it does not begin with an ampersand but with the first word quoted by Bentley, “From.”

P. 249, pl. 51. The sketch previously in the collection of David J. Black has been sold through Colnaghi’s to the Hamburg Kunsthalle.

P. 252, pl. 64. The “low, Regency chair” is probably a large scroll.

P. 252, pl. 69. If the text was “altered in the copper” then at least two states should be listed. In which copies do these appear?

P. 253, pl. 72. Capital “D” in “Decaying,” “Tormenters” not “Tormentors,” in the quoted lines.

P. 253, pl. 75. Why is the figure on the left a “man” rather than another long-haired, crowned woman?

P. 254, pl. 78 incipit. Period after “Jerusalem.”

P. 255, pl. 81. The last two lines are not “written in a solid Black part of the margin” but in a white peninsula etched into the surrounding relief area.

P. 256, pl. 92. The “Note” should be appended to pl. 94.

P. 257, pl. 97 variants. “The light to the left and below the globe is gone in C.” Its disappearance is caused by (accidental?) fouling of whites. This impression bears other evidence of fouling and smudging in the whites on the figure and globe. P. 258, copy A. The “colour microfilm by Micro Methods Ltd.” is of the Blake Trust facsimile of copy E, not of the uncolored copy A.

P. 263, history of pl. 47. This print was listed for sale in Colnaghi’s May 1977 catalogue.

“Joseph of Arimathea,” no. 83, p. 266, table of copies. Neither copy B nor E is “colour-printed.” Keynes, Separate Plates, p. 4, and in Bibliotheca Bibliographici, p. 61, reports that his copy E is watermarked 1828, not 1825. There are two copies not on Bentley’s list: one with added washes (as in copy H) recently acquired by the Pierpont Morgan Library, and one on late paper (1830-50?) in my begin page 185 | back to top collection (Bentley’s untraced copy G?).

“Laocoon,” no. 84, p. 268. The leaf-size of copy B indicates that it must be cropped considerably at top, bottom, or both.

P. 269. “The original and the engraving for Rees are faithful copies of the cast, showing it without the hands, arms, and serpent heads.” All of Blake’s versions have all hands, arms, and heads, as does the Royal Academy cast at present. I do not know if the cast was ever incomplete, but I doubt it.

Malkin’s Father’s Memoirs, no. 97, p. 285, title-page. All but first letter of “Astrophel” are small capitals.

The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, no. 98, p. 290, variants. It is difficult to understand how all but the second of the “changes on pl. 24-25, 27 [in copies K-M] were made . . . on the copperplate.” On p. 297, Bentley notes that pl. 24 “was masked in printing, so that nothing shows of the design in K”—which makes more sense than removal from the copper. If pl. 27 of untraced copy M is indeed “without the 8-line Chorus at the end” (as the Linnell sale catalogue of 15 March 1918 states), it was probably masked in printing or simply cut out of the leaf. Auction catalogues are more likely to record defects for the vendor’s protection against returns than to note details for their own sakes.

P. 291, pl. 3 variants. “The bottom woman is on a cloud in A.” The “cloud” would seem not to be a variant, for it appears in copies A-E, H, I, and is partly colored out only in F. It is etched in the copper, as uncolored copy B shows.

P. 293, pl. 6. “Below the text there appear to be non-functional lines including the letters ‘WOH...’ in mirror-writing.” Erdman’s reading (“HOW” in The Illuminated Blake, p. 104) makes the letters functional, but the leftward slant of the letters does suggest mirror-image writing.

P. 293, pl. 10 incipit. Line break after “Hell.”

P. 294, pl. 11 variants. The “stump” is extended and colored like water in copy I, and the “island is not distinguishable[e] from the water” as in D and both the BMPR and Newton color prints of the design.

P. 295, pl. 16. The figures sit on the floor of their cell, not on the “grass.”

Milton, no. 118, p. 312, pl. 8. Is one of the figures on the left a “woman” (Bentley) or a man (Erdman, The Illuminated Blake, p. 226)?

P. 317, pl. 38 variants. “In copy D, the man’s left thumb on the woman’s left leg has been extended to place it on her vagina.” The left thumb has been painted in, and perhaps extended a bit, but it is below her vagina and extends downward along her inner thigh. Bentley does not mention the man’s erect penis, visible in the Harvey loose pull and copy A, obscured in B and C, and painted out in D.

P. 318, p. 40 incipit. First letters are capitals in “All” and “Things.”

Notebook, no. 122, p. 323. I doubt that the “writing . . . , especially that in pencil” has “faded noticeably since the facsimile of 1935 was made.” The darker lines in the facsimile are probably the result of the photographic processes used, for the paper looks darker and dirtier in this facimile than in the original.

Pp. 324-32, Designs in the Notebook. Bentley follows the sequence of pages as they are now bound, not the reconstruction of the original order in Erdman’s 1973 facsimile, and gives many, but not all, of the deleted emblem numbers recorded by Erdman. My corrections noted here are based on a study of the original manuscript.

P. 326, p. 17 of the Notebook. Line break after “find,” not “can.”

P. 326, p. 19. Bentley’s transcription of the lines from The Faerie Queene are true to both Spenser and Blake, correcting the Erdman facsimile’s “That” for “Full” and “now” for “thou.”

P. 327, p. 27. The “two (?) smudged figures” are part of an early version of “A Breach in a City, the Morning after Battle” (two versions, one formerly Robertson, the other formerly Rosenbloom, collections) and “War” (Fogg Museum). It is numbered 53 del, not “33.”

P. 327, p. 33. Design is numbered 11.

P. 328, p. 41. First deleted number is 37, not “32.”

P. 328, p. 45. Erdman facsimile records “2” for the second deleted number, not “7.” It looks like 9 to me.

P. 328, p. 47. Erdman facsimile records “25” for the first number, not “2”; it is hard to tell which is right.

P. 328, p. 49. First deleted number is 11, not “4.”

P. 329, p. 55. Design is numbered 50, not “5.”

P. 329, p. 58. I doubt that the design upper right is “for pl. 11” of For Children because it shows a figure holding on to a tree. The third “undecipherable” sketch (upper left) clearly shows a figure sitting beneath a tree.

P. 329, p. 60. Following the deleted number Blake has added “44” according to Erdman’s facsimile. Could be 41.

P. 329, p. 61. The first deleted number is 29. Erdman’s facsimile accurately transcribes “we,” not “to,” in the quoted inscription.

P. 329, p. 63. Erdman’s facsimile records “43 del 45,” not “[10 del] 15.” The 4s are fairly clear.

P. 329, p. 64. Bentley overlooks the sketch of two figures on this page.

P. 329, p. 65. Deleted number is 47.

P. 329, p. 66. Besides the profile, there is a reclining figure near the center of the page.

P. 329, p. 67. Erdman’s facsimile records “41” for the deleted number, not “48.” I can’t make out the second digit at all.

P. 329, p. 68. No “e” in both “shouldst” in quoted inscription.

P. 329, p. 69. Following the deleted number Blake has added 7.

P. 330, p. 71. After 35 del Erdman’s facsimile records “14.” There are two numbers, but 14 may be the deleted one.

P. 330, p. 73. The deleted number is 15, not “18.” In the inscription, the word is “perswade,” not “persuade.”

P. 330, p. 74. The sketch for the woman “etched reversed in Songs (1794) pl. 33” is accompanied by begin page 186 | back to top the (dead?) child. Bentley’s “fourth” sketch looks like one figure, not two, and looks nothing like “Urizen . . . pl. 21” to me.

P. 330, p. 77. Erdman’s facsimile records the design numbers as 9 del, 10.

P. 330, p. 79. Bentley overlooks the partially erased sketch numbered 18 del, 12.

P. 330, p. 81. Erdman’s facsimile gives the deleted number as “19,” not “14.” I can’t tell which is right.

P. 330, p. 83. The design is numbered 49 del, 37.

P. 331, p. 89. Bentley overlooks the faint sketch numbered 21.

P. 331, p. 91. Above the other numbers is 22 del.

P. 331, p. 94. Line break after “the,” not “as.”

P. 332, p. 97. The first deleted number is 25.

P. 332, p. 98. I can’t find the “5” Bentley records.

P. 332, p. 101. No line break in the inscription.

P. 332, p. 114. Bentley overlooks the swirls on this page, perhaps representing figures.

“Small Book of Designs,” no. 136, pp. 356-57. The three color printed designs from Songs of Innocence sold Sotheby’s London, 5 April 1977, lots 207, 209, 210, may have once been part of one of the design books.

The Song of Los, no. 137, p. 359. “The first five lines of text, the prelude, are etched in italic, the rest in roman characters.” This is backwards—the first five lines are in roman, the rest in italic.

Songs of Innocence and of Experience, no. 139, p. 380, general title-page. Last three letters of “Soul” are lower case italic.

P. 381, footnote 1. “The Innocence plates appear to be both etched and engraved but the Experience plates only etched.” I take this to mean that there is some white line work (whether etched or engraved is hard to tell in each case) on some Innocence plates but none in Experience. However, there is crude white line work on a number of plates in Experience, most apparent on the old man in “London” and the lower trunk of the tree in “Human Abstract.”

P. 388, pl. 1. Leaves are around the “nude” woman’s loins as well as the man’s.

P. 389, pl. 4. The vignette upper right (as etched) shows a bird, not “a standing man.” In copies Y and Z a standing figure is painted in the lower right vignette.

P. 393, pl. 18. How can we tell that the floating figure upper left is a “man” and the figure lower right partly beneath the plant is a “woman”? The first wears a flowing gown like the “walking woman” beside her/him, and the second looks no more feminine than the rising figure just above.

P. 394, pl. 19. The adult leading the girls is very likely a female matron, not a “man.”

P. 396, pl. 26. The lantern is in the watchman’s left hand, not “fastened at the top” of his staff.

P. 398, pl. 37. The falling snow is “Black”—that is, the color in which the plate is printed—but on the ground it is white.

P. 399, pl. 39. The figure is not “wrapped round” by the worm in all copies (for example, not in A, B, I, K, N, Z, AA).

P. 400, pl. 42 variants. The pen & ink addition in copy P is “Formd,” not “Formed.” This misspelling also appears on p. 388, line 5. The question mark after “hand” in line 12 was also erased along with “& what.”

P. 401, pl. 46. How can we tell that the old man is “blind”?

P. 421, copy T. A previously untraced copy of “The Clod & the Pebble” now in my collection may have originally been part of copy T.1010 This possibility was kindly suggested to me by Prof. Bentley. The print now in T is one of the color printed plates inserted to complete the copy. Like the other hand tinted prints in T, my impression is printed in terra-cotta orange with an orange pen & ink framing line (6-7 mm. outside the plate) and number (32) upper right within the frame. The number indicates that this is not a separate impression, and Bentley lists no other copy of the book with similar frames and numbers lacking pl. 32.

P. 429. “The electrotypes seem to be identical in form with Blake’s plates except for pl. 29.” There are several minor differences visible in all impressions from the electrotypes I have seen:

“A Cradle Song,” line 3, “dreams”: “d” missing.

“Holy Thursday,” in Experience, line 4: dot of question mark missing. Line 14, “rain”: “n” missing.

“Ah! Sun-Flower”: hyphen in title missing.

“London,” line 9, “Chimney-sweepers”: hyphen missing.

“Infant Sorrow,” line 1: vertical of exclamation mark after “groand” missing. Period at end of line 4 missing.

“The School Boy,” line 29, “bless”: “e” partly missing.

P. 432, no. 143. The Benn 1927 facsimile is indeed of copy A, except that “To Tirzah,” “A Little Boy Lost,” and “A Little Girl Lost” are from copy T.

P. 437, no. 178. The colored copies of this 1923 facsimile follow copy T.

P. 438, no. A191. There is a revised edition of 1973 with a new “Publisher’s Foreword.”

There is No Natural Religion, no. 200, p. 443, pl. b10. The engraving of a man holding a compass pointed out by Michael Phillips as the design from which Blake “adapted” his etching is only one of many analogues.

P. 445, copies G and I. The Pierpont Morgan Library sold six plates from these copies, Sotheby Parke Bernet New York, 24 May 1977, lot 153. Pls. a4, a6, and b12 are now in an anonymous American collection; pls. a3, a9, and b12 are in my collection.

P. 447. Bentley overlooks the following color facsimile, apparently of copy C: There is No Natural Religion by W. Blake. Privately Printed. London, Pickering & Co., 1886. This is clearly distinct from the Muir facsimile of the same year.

Tiriel, no. 203, p. 448. The twelfth drawing, formerly in the Hanley collection, is now in the private collection of a New York art dealer.

“To the Queen,” no. 207, p. 451, engraved title to Blair’s Grave.THE,” “Illustrated by twelve Etchings,” “From the Original,” “OF,” and “William Blake.” are all in italic. “A Poem” is in gothic letters, and all but the first letters of “Gravebegin page 187 | back to top and “William Blake” are small capitals. “BY” is in italic capitals and is on a separate line.

P. 452, footnote 1. Last date should be 1870.

Visions of the Daughters of Albion, no. 213, p. 469, pl. 2. Four, not “five,” figures “are sporting” in the rainbow.

P. 470, pl. 4 incipit. Comma after “Enslav’d.”

P. 486, no. 236. The Introduction and Notes are in the same place in both editions.

P. 488, no. 249c, Muir facsimile of Visions. At least one copy (in my collection) is colored after copy G (bound with Thel copy J used by Muir for his 1884 facsimile) rather than A.

P. 490, no. 259. Also published N.Y.

P. 493, no. 287. Also printed London & N.Y., 1965.

P. 495, no. 303. Also printed 1935 & 1946.


This Part updates the similar section in Bentley & Nurmi. A few corrections and additions (not beyond Bentley’s terminal date) follow.

P. 506, no. 390. The illustrations were also issued loose in a portfolio with a different title-page.

P. 507, no. 398. Also printed London, 1961.

P. 508, no. 408. The illustrations were also issued loose in portfolio.

Addition: William Blake. The Masters 6. Ed. Geoffrey Keynes. London, 1965.


This is a thorough revision of the similar section in Bentley & Nurmi, with several new titles, now all transcribed, giving much more information on publication history, plate-size, plate inscriptions, proofs, and other pertinent matters. Some of the books with plates engraved by others after Blake’s designs are simply hand-made reproductions of earlier engravings and thus should be categorized somewhere between the first generation graphics, made from Blake’s drawings, and modern photographic reproductions. For example, the Night Thoughts design in The Seraph (no. 512) and the two Grave designs in Hamilton’s English School (no. 463) are no doubt copies of the plates engraved by Blake and Schiavonetti, not of the drawings. Bentley has been selective in his choice of this type of material, apparently including only metal-plate reproductions made shortly after Blake’s death and excluding various nineteenth-century wood engravings after Blake’s designs, such as those in Gilchrist’s Life, vol. 20 of Scribner’s Monthly, or Chatto’s Treatise on Wood Engraving, which are just as close to the originals in the number of reproductive steps. On the other hand, the Virgil illustrations in Gilchrist’s Life and the 1843 Athenaeum are mentioned only in passing (p. 630) even though they were printed from Blake’s original blocks. There is some minor inconsistency in the way modern reprints are listed. For example, reproductions of the complete Job series are given individual entry numbers, but twentieth-century reproductions of Blair’s Grave (including two lacking the text) are listed as editions under the single Grave entry number.

Corrections and additions follow. Some of the latter is previously unrecorded information on Blake’s plates contained in vols. II-III of William Blake: Book Illustrator, the publication of which has been long delayed. One or two of the many corrections I propose in Bentley’s transcriptions of title-pages and plate inscriptions may be due to our inspection of copies that do in fact differ. In most cases, however, I have checked multiple copies, including some of those Bentley lists, and I doubt that I am simply recording a host of variants. I have not been able to compare Bentley’s information directly against the following works, listed by Bentley’s entry numbers: 419, 436B-D, 452B, 453D, E, 454, 455, 456C, 457B-E, 462, 463, 464B, 475A, C-D, 477A-D, 478, 481B, 485B, 486B, 487C, D, 492D, 494C, 495, 496, 497B, 498D, E, 499D, E, 511, 512A-B, 514B.

Allen, History of England, no. 415, p. 512. Title: “parti-/ cular,” double rule after “period,” and the title-page is dated 1798 not “1797.”

Ariosto, Orlando Furioso, no. 417C, p. 513. Title: comma after “Hoole,” line break and rule after volume number. The design in D (1799) is considerably reworked into a high-finish plate.

Bellamy’s Picturesque Magazine, no. 418, p. 514. Title: Line break after first “AND,” all but first letters of “Literary Museum” and “London” are small capitals. The correct position of the plate is facing p. [37] (Huntington copy) where the essay illustrated begins, not “between pp. 48 and 49” (Harvard copy).

Royal Universal Family Bible, no. 420, pp. 515-16. Title: “difference” in thirtieth line, “Trans-/|lation” in forty-first line. An impression of pl 1 in my collection, on paper watermarked 1803, is in a later state. The plate is cut down from 28.5 × 18.6 cm. to 25.1 × 18 cm. and the inscriptions removed, probably in preparation for use in another book.

Job, no. 424, p. 524. I can confirm Keynes’ remark, quoted by Bentley, “that the reduced-size plates were also issued separately in a portfolio.” Isn’t no. 425 just the N.Y. issue of no. 424? No. 431, p. 525. There is also a N.Y. issue.

Blair, The Grave, no. 435, pp. 526-31. Title of F: Period, not comma, after “POEM.”

Period, not comma, after “POEM.”

No. 435K, title: “Prophetic” not “Prophet.” The 1808 folio is not “marked ‘Proof Copy’ on the plates,” but only on the engraved title-page. Engraved title-page: all but first letter of “Grave” are small capitals, “William Blake” is in italic small capitals except for the first letters in each word, and all but the first letter of “Executed” are lower case.

Label in Subscribers’ copies: “BLAIR’S” is in gothic letters, “ENGRAVED BY SCHIAVONETTI” in italic capitals, dash before (not after) “Price.” Phillips portrait: there are other versions in the collection of Philip Hofer and another in a begin page 188 | back to top private British collection (Sir Geoffrey Keynes tells me).

Pl. 1. The inscriptions recorded for this and all other Grave plates are those of the second states appearing in the 1808 quarto.

Pl. 3. The sketch in the Robertson catalogue, no. 82, is not related to pl. 3 but may be a rejected alternate design for pl. 2.

Pl. 4 inscription. “Counseller,” not “Counsellor.

Pl. 6 inscription. “her’s,” not “hers.” I have never been able to locate a sketch for this plate “in the Rosenwald Collection.” The Rosenwald does have, however, a separate color print of the design on pl. 14 of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell which was entitled “The Soul Hovering Over the Body” in the Philadelphia exhibition catalogue (1939), no. 188.

Pl. 7. I have not been able to locate any sketch for this plate “in the Rosenwald Collection.” Ruth Fine Lehrer’s “Blake Materials in the Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection,” Blake Newsletter, 9 (Winter 1975-76), does not list any sketches for this or the previous plate.

Pl. 8. There is a proof before inscriptions except for the signatures in the Achenbach Print Collection, San Francisco.

Pl. 11. I have never been able to locate a “proof before the verses were added” in Keynes’ collection, but Sir Geoffrey does own a loose impression of the first published state from the 1808 folio (which lacks the verses).

P. 531. “The Gambols of Ghosts” was for some years on deposit at the Fitzwilliam Museum, where I saw it, but is now (June 1977) for sale by a New York dealer. The Princeton and Harvard copies with the transcribed label are 1813 large folios.

P. 534, F-G. The “biography of ‘William Blake’” does not appear in the N.Y. edition of 1847. The plates are not signed in the 1847 edition.

Bonnycastle, Introduction to Mensuration, no. 436, p. 535. The lettering on the BMPR proof is in the plate, not hand written on the print as Bentley implies. The plate was cut down for the 1787 (not first in the 1791) edition. I can find no differences between second edition (1787) and third edition (1791) impressions that cannot be accounted for by differences in inking, printing, and wear.

Boydell’s Shakespeare, no. 437, pp. 535-36. Title: “SERIES OF PRINTS” is in roman capitals, line break after “Works,” “Engraved from” in gothic letters, second letter of “Co.” is a small capital, line break, rule, and no period after “Cheapside,” comma after “Halliwell.

Brown, Elements of Medicine, no. 438, pp. 536-37. Title: No hyphen after “deduc” in first volume, periods after “Darwin” and “Zoonomia.” Plate inscription: all but the first letters in names are small capitals in “John Brown, m.d.,” period after “May 1.

Bryant, New System of Mythology, no. 439, p. 537. The transcribed title-page is of the second (1775) edition, not the 1774 first edition as indicated. There are differences in lineation, as Bentley notes, and “INDOSCYTHAE” is not hyphenated in the first edition. In both editions there is a comma after “OR,” “LELEGES” has but two Ls, and there is a line break after “Charing-cross.” In the second edition, the plate at the end of vol. II has the outer frame removed.

Burger, Leonora, no. 440, p. 537. Title: single rule after “BURGER.”

Catullus, Poems, no. 441, p. 539. Title: colon after “NEPOS” in vol. I, period in vol. II. “March 19” in plate imprint.

Prologue and Characters of Chaucer’s Pilgrims, no. 443, p. 540. Title: “PRICE TWO SHILLINGS AND SIXPENCE” is in italic capitals, date has three periods—“M.DCCC.XII.”

Commins, Elegy, no. 444, p. 540. Title: colon after “Tho” below “s.” No period at end of quoted verse, “Street, Strand.” at end of plate imprint.

Cumberland, An Attempt to Describe Hafod, no. 445, pp. 540-41. Title: Last letter in “DEVIL’s” is a small capital. Bentley comments that, “since pl. 2-3, 5-11, 22 signed with some variant of ‘Engraved by G:C:’ in Cumberland’s Thoughts on Outline (1796) exhibit [like the Hafod] this eccentric, sinister ‘g,’ it seems likely that Cumberland too used this ‘g.’ (Otherwise, we must assume that Blake lettered the plates signed ‘Engraved by G:C:’).” I think it is very likely that Blake did indeed do all the lettering for Cumberland on the Thoughts on Outline plates. The inscriptions on the “G:C:” plates not only have the leftward serif on the “g,” but all the letters are formed the same as on Blake’s signed plates in Thoughts [compare illus. 1 & 2]. I doubt that Cumberland had any skill at writing backwards—witness his difficulties with his “New Mode of Printing”1111 See A New Review . . . for the year 1784, ed. Henry Maty, 6 (1784), 318-19, and Cumberland’s letter to his brother suggesting a counterproofing method to reverse his backwards printing, both rpt. in The Visionary Hand, pp. 11-14. —and thus had to have Blake do all the lettering for him. It is of course possible that Blake engraved the lettering on the Hafod map but not the map itself.

Cumberland, Outlines of the Antients, no. 446, pp. 541-42. Title of A: no comma after “CUMBERLAND.” The “variant titles” in B are in the table of contents; the plates are the same as in A.

Cumberland, Thoughts on Outline, no. 447, pp. 542-43. Title: line break after “DESIGNS OF,” semicolon after “COMMONS.” The quoted “legend” is all in italic. Bentley reports that the BMPR has “proofs of pl. 2-24.” In a thorough search I have been able to find only the following related to Blake’s plates, other than loose impressions of the published plates: pl. 16, a tinted drawing of the design, with inscriptions by Cumberland; pl. 18, tinted drawing; pl. 19, tinted impression, state undetermined; pl. 23, tinted drawing.

Dante, Illustrations of, no. 448, pp. 544-46. Title: double quotation marks around “Illustrations of / the Book of Job,” line break after “sat,” all but the first letters of “Cary’s Dante” are small capitals. In the quoted letter to Linnell of 30 Dec. 1856, J. H. Chance mentions “Two proofs of Emmaus.” This is no doubt Linnell’s mezzotint, begin page 189 | back to top “The Journey to Emmaus,” the published state of which bears an imprint dated 17 June 1839. “Proof” in Chance’s letter may mean no more than “impression.”

Pl. 1. The inscription is scratched on the plate in mirror-image writing, and no doubt was intended for re-engraving right way round (i.e., reversed in the copper) before publication. Bentley states that “there are proofs of each [Dante plate] in the BMPR,” but I have found proofs of only three plates, the other four being published states. None of the plates were completed before Blake’s death.

Darwin, Botanic Garden, no. 450, pp. 546-47. General title of A-B: single rule after “CHURCHYARD,” “Entered at Stationers Hall” in gothic letters.

General title of C: rule and line break before “MDCCXCV.”

Pl. 1. The rain-god does appear in Fuseli’s original sketch, but he is smaller than in Blake’s rendering and his arms are at a 45° angle.

Pls. 2-5. There are imprints reading “1 [2, 3, 4]. London, Published Decr. 1st. 1791, by J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church Yard.” This is trimmed off in all copies of pl. 2 I have seen except one at Princeton in which the binder folded the lower quarter of the plate before trimming text pages. In B, there is a date on pl. 1 (same as in A).

Pl. 6. Another proof is in the collection of Raymond Lister. These five proofs, all lacking the same considerable amount of finishing lines in the design, have various amounts of lettering from signatures only to full inscriptions as published. In D, Bentley believes that the plates (except for one additional illustration) “were evidently commissioned and executed at the same time as those for the first edition,” presumably because the same dates appear on these reduced plates. However, it seems to have been a common practice in the eighteenth century to retain original imprint dates when reissuing the same illustrations, even if they are printed from new copperplates. And I doubt that even Joseph Johnson was prescient enough in 1791 to know that he would be publishing an octavo edition of Darwin eight years later.

Donne, Poetical Works, no. A450, pp. 548-49. Title: “Anno” is in italic letters. That the previously unidentified proof in the BMPR [illus. 3] was intended for Bell’s Poets is certain because of the border design; that it was to illustrate the Donne volume is somewhat less certain. Another possibility is that it was meant for the first Milton volume in the series; for the published plate therein, after Mortimer’s design, has the same subject as this proof [illus. 4].

Emlyn, Proposition, no. 452, pp. 550-51. Title of A: line break after “FOR,” semi-colon after “CHARING CROSS,” period after date. Bentley rejects Gibson & Minnick’s contention that the plate Blake signed in 1781 was “reworked, rather than re-engraved entirely” for the 1797 edition. I tend to agree with Gibson & Minnick. The differences in the feathers cited by Bentley can be explained as the common practice of reworking areas that printed weakly in earlier editions. Two bits of evidence suggest that Blake’s plate was indeed reworked and cut down. A fragment of a semi-circular measurement line (upper left) still appears on the plate even though it no longer has any function. This can be most easily exlained as an oversight in reworking the plate; it would be odd to retain an unnecessary line on a new plate. More convincing evidence is provided by five tiny dots. In the 1781 impressions, dots are clearly visible in the exact centers of the four half-circles that terminate two pad-like elements of the column’s base. These were no doubt made by the fixed foot of the compass used to mechanically draw the half-circles (yes, Blake did use compasses). On the left end of the lower pad are two dots, probably made by the need to replace the compass foot in a second position in order to get the semi-circle right. All these dots—including the extra one lower left in exactly the same place—also appear in the 1797 plate. An “accidental” (to borrow a bibliographic term) of this sort is a far better indication that two impressions are from the same copperplate than the “substantive” elements of design which receive careful attention in reworking a plate.

Enfield, The Speaker, no. 453, pp. 551-52. Title of A: the lineation follows the Bodleian copy. The BM and American Blake Foundation copies differ in lineation. There is also an unillustrated edition of 1786.

Pl. 1. The BMPR has a proof before letters, with the face of the winged figure visible rather than covered with hair, but I have never been able to find “a sketch.” There is a drawing by Stothard illustrating Richard III, but it shows Richard tossing on his bed in his tent and is totally unlike Blake’s plate. In the W. E. Moss sale, Sotheby’s, 2 March 1937, lot 232, were the “Original Sketches by Stothard, for the re-working of the 3rd state” (?), and in his 1921 Bibliography, p. 226, Keynes records that “Stothard’s original sketch for the design” was then in Moss’s collection, but I have not been able to locate any of these. Bentley notes that the plate was “touched up” in the 1795 edition, but I believe wear and printing differences can account for the variations.

Euler, Elements of Algebra, no. 454, p. 553, pl. 1 inscription. Double comma under “r” in “Esqr,,.

Fenning & Collyer, New System of Geography, no. 455, p. 554, pl. 2 imprint. “Pauls Church Yard” is in italic. The “reference beside the proof” of pl. 1 is in pencil.

Flaxman, Hesiod, no. 456, pp. 556-60. Title of A: begin page 190 | back to top

3 Proof of an engraving intended for Bell’s Edition [of] The Poets of Great Britain, 1778-84.   Blake after Thomas Stothard, 20 × 14.5 cm. British Museum.
begin page 191 | back to top
4 Engraved title-page to The Poetical Works of John Milton, Vol. I, 1779, in Bell’s Edition [of] The Poets of Great Britain.   John Hall after John Hamilton Mortimer. 10.5 × 6.1 cm. Author’s Collection.
begin page 192 | back to top the double rule after “BLAKE” is actually the frame surrounding the title. The 24 Hesiod drawings in “Grey wash” (Metropolitan Museum) are very likely copies after the engravings. A drawing in the BMPR may be an alternate for pl. 6. I have never been able to locate the proofs in the Bodleian, although several people (including Bentley) tell me they have seen them there in the past.

Pl. 3. The two drawings formerly in the Powney collection, both alternates very different from the published version, were offered for sale by the Heim Gallery, London, spring 1976, catalogue nos. 18, 19.

Pl. 6. There is a drawing in the Fitzwilliam.

Pl. 7. One of the Powney drawings was offered for sale by the Heim Gallery, spring 1976, catalogue no. 20.

Pl. 12. There are three related sheets of studies in the BMPR.

Pls. 18, 22. The Princeton sketches are very likely copies after the engravings.

Pl. 32. The Powney drawing (not “draft”) was offered for sale by the Heim Gallery, spring 1976, catalogue no. 22.

Pl. 33. A variant drawing from the Powney collection was offered for sale by the Heim Gallery, spring 1976, catalogue no. 23.

An unpublished design showing Rhea consulting with Uranus and Terra was in the Heim sale, catalogue no. 21. I do not know the present whereabouts of any of these Powney-Heim drawings.

In the Bell edition (B), the original imprints have been removed from the plates.

Flaxman, Iliad, no. 457, pp. 560-63. Title of A: ampersand, not “AND,” after “REES.”

1879 edition (C): there is an edition of 1885 by Seely & Co. containing the Hesiod as well as the Iliad. The title suggests that the Hesiod also appeared in the 1879 edition.

Pl. 2 inscription. Period after “B.1.” The Chicago Art Institute sketch is probably a copy after the engraving; the sketch formerly in the Powney collection is now in my possession.

Pl. 3. I have not been able to find any “proof” in the BMPR. A variant sketch is in University College, London.

Flaxman, Naval Pillar, no. 458, p. 564. There are six related sketches in the Rosenwald collection, two of which are close to pl. 1.1212 | 12b | 12 Repro. Blake Newsletter, 9 (Winter 1975-76), 82.

Fuseli, Lectures on Painting, no. 459, p. 564, pl. 1 inscription. “Ancora.” A proof before letters except signatures is in Keynes’ collection.

Gay, Fables, no. 460, pp. 564-65. Title: “Printed for John Stockdale, Piccadilly” (not all capitals). There is a proof of pl. 2 in the BMPR, but the other loose impressions are in the published state.

Gough, Sepulchral Monuments, no. 461, pp. 566-68. There is a variant title to “PART I,” lacking the volume designation, in my collection.

Pl. 10. Proof before letters in the collection of Raymond Lister.

For some plates there is only one proof impression (not “three to five”) in the Bodleian.

Greco, Mrs. Q, no. 462, p. 568, pl. 1. All inscriptions are in italic. Comma after “1820,” period after “Pancras.” The prints in Greco’s book are in the second state with some reworking of the aquatint in the woman’s hair.

Hartley, Observations on Man, no. 464, p. 570. Title of A: “y” in “By DAVID” is a small capital, no line division after “Rev.” or “Pistorius,” all but the first letter of “Rector of” lower case, all but “I” of “Island” lower case in “in the Island of.” Issue A is a quarto, B an octavo.

Hayley, Ballads, no. 465, p. 571. Title: all but first letter of “Esq.” are small capitals. There are two states of pls. 1-3. The second states appear in some copies with the regular title-page as well as the Princeton variant noted by Bentley.

Hayley, Designs to a Series of Ballads, no. 466, pp. 572-73. Title: all but the first letter of “Esq.” are small capitals, “Chichester” in gothic letters.

Pl. 1. I have not been able to find “a proof before imprint . . . in the BMPR,” although there is a loose impression of the published state.

Pl. 4. Sketches appear on pp. 6 & 92 of the Notebook.

Hayley, Essay on Sculpture, no. 467, p. 575, pl. 1. A sketch by Flaxman is in the Rosenwald Collection.12 The reason for Flaxman sketching a design attributed on the plate to Thomas Hayley is explained by W. Hayley’s letter to Flaxman of 21 Dec. 1799: “You I know will have the Goodness to retouch for Him [Tom] his Demosthenes in such a manner, that it may form an engrav’d outline, & yet still remain very fairly his own design” (Blake Records, p. 62).

Hayley, Life of Cowper, no. 468, pp. 576-77. Title of A: no comma after “LETTER,” single rule after the 5-line motto, “Chichester” in gothic letters. Title of B: “Chichester” in gothic letters, “PRINTED BY J. SEAGRAVE” in italic.

Pl. 4. A second state appears in the second edition, and a proof of an intermediate state (on a sheet with the typography of the first edition) is in Keynes’ collection.

Pl. 6. There are drawings at Princeton (by Blake of Hayley’s own version),1313 Repro. Princeton University Library Chronicle, 24 (1962), facing p. 3. Harvard (one by Blake after Flaxman’s design, and another by Blake of Hayley’s version), and the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library (an alternate version by Flaxman). According to Charles Ryskamp,1414 “Blake’s Drawings of Cowper’s Monument,” Princeton University Library Chronicle, 24 (1962), 27-31. there is yet another drawing of Cowper’s monument (perhaps by Blake) in the collection of James Osborne. The weak sketch of Cowper (perhaps by Blake) in the Widener Collection, Harvard, is probably after Romney’s portrait, not Lawrence’s. Keynes, Bibliography (1921), reports proofs in his collection of pls. 3 & 4 (the intermediate state noted above), not pl. 6.

Hayley, Life of Romney, no. 469, p. 577. Title: line break before “GEORGE,” comma after “ROMNEY,” double rule and line break after 10-line motto, double rule before “Chichester.

begin page 193 | back to top

Hayley, Little Tom the Sailor, no. 470, pp. 577-78. Title and imprint: the periods after “Sailor” and “1800” appear in the Walker-Muir facsimile, but not in the original.

Hayley, Triumphs of Temper, no. 471, p. 578. Title of A: no line breaks after “TRIUMPHS” or before “TEMPER,” “of” between the two in small capitals, comma after “HAYLEY.” Title of B: corrections to A given above, plus “y” in “By WILLIAM” is lower case, “Esqr.” after “HAYLEY,” “Mitate” (“Mirate” in A), “Dante, Inferno, Canto” in italic, comma after “CORRECTED.” I suspect that there is no true “large paper” issue. All were probably issued on the same tall sheets and small paper copies have simply been cut down.

Henry, Memoirs of Albert de Haller, no. 472, p. 579, pl. 1 inscription. No period after “d.

Hoare, Academic Correspondence, no. 473, p. 580. Title: “London” is in gothic letters.

Hoare, Inquiry, no. 474, p. 581, pl. 1 inscriptions. Period after “sc,” comma after “Street.

Hogarth, Works, no. 475, pp. 581-84. Title of B: all quotation marks are double, no line break after “Virtue,” comma after “JAMES’S.” The open letter state of Blake’s plate appears in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Princeton copies of the 1790 edition and is thus the first state published in a book. I have been able to find only two later states: filled letters in most copies of the 1790 (A) edition and all copies examined (about 15) of the undated Boydell edition (B); the “restored” (perhaps “ruined” would be more accurate) plate in Heath’s edition of 1822 (C). All subsequent changes in this plate, probably printed more often than any other engraving by Blake, can be attributed to excessive wear. The impression in the 1965 portfolio (I) is a mere ghost of what began as one of Blake’s finest reproductive prints.

Hunter, Historical Journal, no. 476, pp. 584-85. Title of A: line break and rule after “1792,” rule and line break before “LONDON.” Title of B: middle word in “PHILLIP and KING” is in small capitals, as are all letters in “by Iohn Hunter , Esqr.” except first letters of second, third, and fourth words.

Pl. 1 inscription. “of” is in small capitals, colon under “r” in “Novr:,” comma after “15.” In the octavo edition (B), the plate is in a second state, with smaller letters in the title inscription, now 9 mm. closer to the design than in the quarto (A).

Josephus, Works, no. 477, pp. 587-88. Title of E: comma after “Philo.”

Pl. 2. There are two states of the published plate. The second, appearing in the third and subsequent issues, has new finishing work in the design.

Kimpton, History of the Bible, no. 478, pp. 590-91, pls. 1-3 inscriptions. The words and numbers Bentley records as capitals are small capitals except for the first letter in each word and “XIII” on pl. 1. On all three published plates the ornamental frames and inscriptions were changed for publication in the Josephus.

Pl. 4. “Grinke” not “Grinka.

Lavater, Aphorisms, no. 480, pp. 592-93. Title of B: period after “CHURCH-YARD.” Title of C: double rule after “EDITION.” The second state of the plate, with additional[e] hatching on the seated figure’s arms and legs and on the floor, appears in some copies of the 1794 edition (Bodleian, British Library, Preston Blake Library, and the Bentley, Keynes, and Essick collections). The “proofs” in the Rosenwald Collection are all first states with variations in inking and wear.

Lavater, Essays on Physiognomy, no. 481, pp. 593-94. Title of A: colon after “LONDON.”

Pl. 2 inscription. All but first letter of “Democritus” are small capitals.

Malkin, Father’s Memoirs, no. 482, pp. 595-96. Title: line break after “ROW.”

Pl. 1 inscription. Periods after initials in “R. H. Cromek.” Above the design and to the right is “Page” (visible in the Princeton and Essick copies in boards). I believe that only one of the two loose impressions in BMPR is a proof before letters. There are related drawings in the BMPR (two women and a child) and in the collection of Donald Davidson (child’s face).1515 Repro. Blake Newsletter, 7 (Summer, 1973), 6.

Monthly Magazine, no. 483, p. 596, pl. 1 inscription. Small capital “r” in “Mr.”

Mora, Meditaciones Poeticas, no. 484, p. 596. The imprint and Blake’s signature also appear on pl. 1 (visible in the Gordon N. Ray copy on deposit in the Pierpont Morgan Library).

Pl. 1 inscription. “por” is in gothic letters.

Novelist’s Magazine, nos. 485-87, pp. 597-603.

There are two states of all plates.

No. 485, A, title: all but first letter of London” are[e] in small capitals.

Pls. 1, 2. There are proofs before letters in the BMPR.

No. 486, iv.A, title: period after “SMOLLETT.”

There is a title-page for Smollett’s Launcelot Greaves dated 1792 (this should be No. 486 iv.C in Bentley’s reckoning).

Pl. 1. There are two proofs before letters in the BMPR.

Pl. 3. There is a proof before letters in the BMPR.

No. 487, A, title: line break after “Third,” no comma or line break after “Fourth.”

Pls. 1, 2. There are proofs before letters in the BMPR.

Olivier, Fencing Familiarized, no. 488, pp. 602-03. Title: “OLIVIER” (not “OLIVER”), two periods after “Delectatione.

Pl. 1 inscription. Two commas beneath “e” in “4e,,”,“quarte” (not “quatre”).

Rees, Cyclopaedia, no. 489, pp. 603-05. Title: “Arts. Sciences, and Literature” is in gothic begin page 194 | back to top

5 Blake’s pencil sketch, vouched for by Frederick Tatham, of designs in Abraham Rees, The Cyclopaedia, Plates Vol. II, 1820, section on “Brasso Relievo.”   Sketch lower left is for pl. IV (engraved by Blake); top for pl. I (unsigned); lower right for pl. II (engraved by William Bond). 31.8 × 28.3 cm. Untraced.
letters, period after “VOL. I.” Bentley has not transcribed the following after “BROWN”: Paternoster-Row, / F. C. AND J. RIVINGTON, A. STRAHAN, PAYNE AND FOSS.

Pl. 2. An untraced drawing [illus. 5] for the three figures lower left was in the Robertson sale, Sotheby’s 22 July 1949, lot 68A. This drawing also contains sketches of figures on pls. I (unsigned) and II (signed Bond sculp.) of “BASSO RELIEVO.” Perhaps William Blake had something to do with the execution of these plates as well.

Pl. 3. A proof of the lower portion of the design, reportedly from a different plate, is in the Pierpont Morgan Library.1616 According to Ryskamp [and Lange]—see footnote 8.

Remember Me!, no. 490, pp. 605-06. Title: “OR” and “London” are in gothic letters, as is “Presented by” in the frontispiece inscription.

Pl. 1. A proof before letters is in the BMPR.

Ritson, Select Collection of English Songs, no. 491, pp. 606-07. The signatures on the BMPR proofs are in the plate, not “inscribed in ink.”

Salzmann, Elements of Morality, no. 492, pp. 607-08. There are at least two, and in most cases three, states of the plates: first, 1791 edition; second, 1792; third, 1799 and subsequent editions. Title of A: line break before “VOL.” Title of E: comma after “MORALITY.” The designer is Daniel Nicolas Chodowiecki (1726-1801), not “David Chodowiecki.”

Salzmann, Gymnastics for Youth, no. 493, p. 610. Title: “and” is in small capitals, rule and line break before “London” which is in gothic letters. The proofs in the BMPR are of pls. 2, 3, 5, 6, 8-10. Only the last is “reversed.”

Pl. 10 inscription. No period after “Swimming.

Scott, Poetical Works, no. 494, p. 611. Title: period after “ESQ.” There are proofs before letters in the BMPR (pls. 1-3) as well as those in the Rosenwald Collection (pls. 2, 3 only).

Seally & Lyons, Complete Geographical Dictionary, no. 495, p. 612.

Pl. 1 inscription. “23” not “3.

Seaman’s Recorder, no. 496, p. 614, pl. 2 inscription Period after “NELSON.”

Bentley records Keynes’ objections to the attribution of these plates to Blake. Erdman has also questioned it,1717 English Language Notes, 9 (1971), supplement 1, pp. 27-28. and one can only hope that Blake did not do such miserable work late in his career—in spite of the prima facie evidence of his name on each plate. The problem is not simply that the engravings are bad, but that they are bad in a way not at all characteristic of Blake in the last years of his life when he brought his own very recognizable style even to small plates for ephemeral publications like Remember Me! and a calling card for Cumberland.

Shakespeare, Dramatic Works, no. 497, p. 614. Title of A: line break after “REVISED,” double rule and line break before “PRINTED.”

Shakespeare, Plays of, no. 498, p. 619, pl. 1. Blake’s squared drawing of Fuseli’s design is in the Rosenwald Collection.

Pl. 2. A proof before letters except for signatures is bound in an extra-illustrated copy of the 1805 ten-volume edition in the Huntington Library.

Stedman, Narrative, no. 499, pp. 621-23. Title of A: “Revolted Negroes”, “Surinam”, “By” (before “CAPTN.”), and “London” are in gothic letters, “ WILD COAST of” in italic, period after “Guinea.” Title of B: “London” is in gothic letters.

Pl. 1 inscription. Lower case “a” in “armed.

Vetusta Monumenta, no. 503, pp. 626-27. Title: comma after “NICHOLS.”

Pls. 5, 6 inscriptions. No periods at end of each. There are two drawings each for pls. 3 and 5 in the Royal Society of Antiquaries, but they are not “duplicates.” One drawing for pl. 3 is of figs. A-C, the other for fig. D; one for pl. 5 is of King Sebert, the other of King Henry III. The drawings for pl. 5 in the Bodleian are similarly divided between the two kings.

Virgil, Pastorals, no. 504, pp. 627-30. Title: semi-colon and no line break after “Whittaker and begin page 195 | back to top Co.” For the brief biographies inscribed on pls. 1-4 Bentley does not give the lineation.

Pl. 1 inscription. Comma after “Poet.

Pl. 2. A proof lacking letters and some work in the design is in the BMPR.

Pl. 3 inscription. “Cleopatria” [sic] not “Cleopatra.

Pl. 4 inscription. Period after “Tyrannically.

Pl. 5 inscription. Line break before “FRONTISPIECE.”

Pl. 25 inscription. Line break after “INTRODUCTORY.”

Pl. 26 inscription. Period after “Æra” and at end.

Pl. 27 inscription. Double quotation marks around “De Rerum Naturâ,” “B.C.” are capitals (not small capitals) in both cases.

There are proofs of Blake’s untrimmed wood engravings in the Rosenwald Collection (nos. 2-5, 6-9) and the Pierpont Morgan Library (nos. 6-9). Fine impressions from the original blocks of the wood engravings were issued loose in portfolio in 1977 by British Museum Publications, Ltd.

Wedgwood’s Catalogue, no. 511, p. 631. Besides those noted by Bentley, pls. 8 and 16 in the BMPR are also proofs.

Whitaker, The Seraph, no. 512, p. 633. Title of C: quoted lines are in roman letters.

The Wit’s Magazine, no. 513, pp. 634-35. Title: the “s” of “WIT’s” is not raised in some copies (Essick [Illus. 6] and Princeton), “COMPLEAT” not “COMPLETE” and line break before “Printed” in all copies examined, period under “o” of “NO.” in some copies (Essick) [Illus. 6].

Pl. 1. Unfortunately, there is no proof “in the collection of Mr. Robert N. Essick.” The error is mine; I thought I had a proof before realizing that there are two plates of the design, as Bentley explains [see illus. 6 & 7].

Pl. 2. A proof before signatures, with other inscriptions cropped, is in the Rosenwald Collection.

The back of the original wrapper for the Nov. 1784 issue in my collection advertises separate colored copies of Blake’s prints and issues of the magazine with two impressions, one plain and one colored. I have never seen a colored copy.

Wollstonecraft, Original Stories, no. 514, pp. 635-36. Title of A: Bentley does not transcribe the following line after “GOODNESS”: BY MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT. Title of C: no period at end. Pl. 1 inscription. Period after “Frontispiece.” There are three states of pls. 1-2, as described in Easson and Essick, William Blake: Book Illustrator, vol. I.

Young, Night Thoughts, no. 515, pp. 636-40. Title: comma after “NOBLE,” spaces after the “M” and second “C” in the date. Blake’s monogram originally appeared on pl. 34, but was eliminated in the published state except for a small fragment.

Pl. 1 inscription. “NIGHT the FIRST” is in italic letters.

Pls. 5, 25. A copy of the book in my collection contains impressions before imprints.

Pl. 11. A few copies of the book contain an early state1818 Repro. Sotheby’s (Hodgson’s Rooms) catalogue, 29 June 1977, facing p. 26. with many differences from the more common final state.


The corresponding section in Bentley & Nurmi has been deepened and extended. The emphasis is naturally on catalogues of Blake’s writings, but Bentley has included most of the important exhibition and sale catalogues devoted to Blake’s pictorial art. One addition in this category would be the sale of Lady Melchett’s collection, Christie’s, 9 Nov. 1971, lots 71-79—the last auction catalogue to contain a significant number of Blakes, including two Tiriel drawings. Bentley includes the Hoe sale catalogue of 1911 (Part II, nos. 452-55, and Part III, nos. 376-88, should also be referred to) but overlooks the privately printed Catalogue of Books in English Later than 1700, forming a portion of the Library of Robert Hoe New York 1905.


This Part is divided into three lists: six titles “Blake is known to have owned” (edition unidentified), forty-four copies of books owned by Blake, and ten “Books Owned by the Wrong William Blake.” The second list is appropriately conservative, including only works with Blake’s name in the subscribers’ list, or for which we have a copy inscribed by him, or which we know that he owned (and which edition) from Blake’s own writings. These principles of selection exclude from all three lists a number of works that we know, from indirect evidence, that Blake had read. His reference to Bryant in the Descriptive Catalogue and his own methods in comparative mythology show familiarity with A New System, or, an Analysis of Ancient Mythology. Apparently this is not included in Bentley’s first list because there is no direct evidence that Blake owned it. Law’s edition of The Works of Jacob Behmen and Byron’s Cain, both in Bentley & Nurmi, also go unmentioned here, presumably for similar reasons. It would be interesting to have a full list of books (the Bible, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Ossian—to name some of the more obvious entries) that we can be reasonably sure Blake knew from the evidence of his writings and the subjects of his designs.

Bentley gives title-page transcriptions of most of the works in his main list. Some corrections to these follow. I have not been able to check nos. 712, 734, 738, 742, 743.

Aeschylus, Tragedies, no. 711. Period after “TRANSLATED,” line break after “NOTES.”

Blair, The Grave, no. 716. “Twelve Etchings” is in gothic letters.

Cennini, Trattato, no. 717. “ANNOTAZIONI,” “SOCIO,” lower case first letter in “approvazione.

Chatterton, Poems, no. 718. “POEMS” is in roman letters.

Cumberland, Thoughts on Outline, no. 720. Line begin page 196 | back to top break before “CLASSICAL,” semi-colon after “DOCTORS’-COMMONS.”

Dante, Inferno, no. 721. This is a two volume work, although Blake’s annotations appear only in the first.

Gay, Fables, no. 724. “AND” is in italic capitals, “Printed for John Stockdale, Piccadilly” (not all capitals).

Hayley, Life of Cowper, no. 727. No comma after “LETTER,” single rule after 5-line motto, “Chichester” in gothic letters.

Hayley, Triumphs of Temper, no. 730. “of” is in small capitals on the same line with “TRIUMPHS” and “TEMPER.”

Homer, Iliad and Odyssey, no. 732. Comma after “72.”

Lavater, Aphorisms, no. 735. “on” is in small capitals, colon after “MAN.”

Percy, Reliques, no. 736. Period after date.

Spurzheim, Observations, no. 739. All quotation marks are double.

Stedman, Narrative, no. 740. See corrections to no. 499, Part III above.

Swedenborg, Heaven and Hell, no. 741. “and” (after “HEAVEN,” after “HEARD,” and after “HONOURABLE”), the “y” in “By” and “the” (both before “HONOURABLE”) are in small capitals, line breaks after “Kingdom” and “LONDON” (the latter in italic capitals), and no “the” before “other Booksellers.”

6 General title-page and frontispiece of The Wit’s Magazine, Jan. 1784 issue.   Bentley’s first version of the frontispiece, Blake after Thomas Stothard. 17.4 × 22.6 cm. Author’s Collection.

Tatham, Etchings, no. 744. All letters are roman, line break and double rule after “1796” and “BOLOGNA,” “y” in “By” (before “CHARLES”) and all but first letter of “Architect” are small capitals, “OF” before “THE INSTITUTE.”

Tatham, Three Designs, no. 745. All letters are roman, except that “London” is in gothic letters.

Thomas, Religious Emblems, no. 746. Line break before “1809.”

Thornton, Lord’s Prayer, no. 747. Capital “P” in “Printed,” “PRICE” after “BOOKSELLERS.”

Watson, Apology, no. 749. “R. WATSON” is in italic capitals, “UNI-/ VERSITY.”

Wordsworth, Excursion, no. 752. Line break after “LONDON.”


A great many items have been added to the 1964 list in Bentley & Nurmi, and all authors are now included in the index. But there have also been some eliminations. As Bentley explains in the general Introduction, he has “omitted scores of entries which appear in A Blake Bibliography (1964), normally because closer inspection proved them either to be reviews [all excluded] or to be substantially irrelevant to Blake” (p. 11). Some of these begin page 197 | back to top omissions deserve listing because of their importance, in spite of brevity, and these have been included in the following list of corrections and additions. Bentley does include some important books with only passing references to Blake, like Ellmann’s Yeats: The Man and the Masks, but does not list others if they contain less than a chapter on Blake. A few significant works of this sort which I have encountered are included below. I have not listed any items published since Bentley’s terminal date of June 1974. I know of some of the newspaper articles only through clippings without page numbers.

Aldington, Richard. “Everyman’s Poets.” Everyman, 15 April 1933, p. 462.

Anon. “An Allegory.” Bibby’s Annual, 1922. P. 43. On the “Epitome of Hervey’s Meditations.”

— “Blake as Artist-Printer.” The Times, 15 July 1964.

— “Blake in Poet’s Corner.” Manchester Guardian, 25 Nov. 1957.

— “Blake Moulded in Song.” The Times, 7 Dec. 1965.

— “Blake’s Home to be Betting Shop.” Evening Standard, 24 Jan. 1968.

— “Bitter Cycle of Song by Britten.” The Times, 25 June 1965.

— “Epstein Bust of Blake.” The Times, 25 Nov. 1957.

7 Frontispiece of The Wit’s Magazine, Jan. 1784 issue.   Bentley’s second version, Blake after Thomas Stothard. 17.1 × 22.6 cm. Author’s Collection.

— “William Blake.” The Times, 12 Sept. 1927. B., W. H. “Blake and Dante.” Bibby’s Annual, 1922. Pp. 42-43.

Baker, C. H. Collins, and Montague R. James. “Barry, Fuseli and Blake.” Pp. 166-70 of British Painting. London, 1933.

Bland, History of Book Illustration, no. 1221. There is a second ed., Berkeley, Calif., 1969.

Brooks, Cleanth and Robert Penn Warren. Understanding Poetry. New York, 1938. Third ed., 1960. Pp. 95-96, 147, 380-83.

Bronowski, Jacob. “Artist in Revolt.” Books and Art, I (Dec. 1957), 20-22.

— “The Modern Mr. Blake.” Radio Times, 3 Jan. 1969.

Brower, Reuben Arthur. The Fields of Light: An Experiment in Critical Reading. London, 1951. New York, 1962. Pp. 6-13.

On “The Sick Rose.”

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Bury, Adrian. “The Astrologer.” Pp. 49-61 in John Varley of the “Old Society.” Leigh-on-Sea, 1946.

Carter, Peter. The Gates of Paradise. London, 1974. A fictionalized account of Blake for younger readers.

Carey, Critical Description of . . . Chaucer’s Pilgrims, no. 1338A.

Line breaks before “PROCESSION,” “JOHN,” and “1808,” “CANTERBURY” is in italic capitals, double quotation marks throughout.

Choremi, Argine. “William Blake: Visions of Eternity.” International History Magazine, no. 11, Nov. 1973. Pp. 56-65 (with 10 illus., 6 in color).

Cunningham, Cabinet Gallery, no. 1431. There is also an edition of London, 1836, in 2 vols. published by George and William Nicol and Hodgson and Graves. Blake account in vol. I, pp. 11-13.

Damon, Blake Dictionary, no. 1445. There is a third printing, 1973.

Note on . . . a New Page, no. 1450. Rpt. Folcroft, Pa., 1972.

Davie, Donald. Articulate Energy: An Inquiry into the Syntax of English Poetry. London, 1955. Pp. 80-85.

Dibdin, Library Companion, no. 1484A. “Library Companion” is in gothic letters, no rule before “LONDON,” no line break before “FINSBURY-SQUARE.” I have a copy in boards with (original?) labels which is not “separately paginated.”

Eppink, Norman R. 101 Prints: The History and Techniques of Printmaking. Norman, Oklahoma, 1967, 1971. Pp. 52, 54, 124.

On Blake’s method of relief etching.

Freeman, Rosemary. English Emblem Books. London, 1948. Rpt. New York, 1966. Pp. 27-32.

Frye. “Yeats and the Language of Symbolism,” no. 1652. Rpt. in Frye, Fables of Identity. New York, 1963.

Gahlin, Sven. “Blake for Sale.” Books and Art, Dec. 1957, p. 22.

Grant, John E. “Apocalypse in Blake’s ‘Auguries of Innocence’.” Texas Studies in Literature and Language, V (1964), 489-508.

Grigson, Geoffrey. “The Upas Tree.” Pp. 56-65 in The Harp of Aeolus. London, 1947.

Hardie, English Coloured Books, no. 1785. Rpt. Bath, 1973.

Hayter, New Ways of Gravure, no. 1815. Second ed., London, 1966.

Hudson, Derek. “Reynolds and Blake.” Listener. 27 Feb. 1969.

No. 1920, English Neoclassical Art. The author is David Irwin, not Robin Ironside.

Johnstone, Creative Art in England, no. 1964. There is a revised edition, London, 1950, with the new title, Creative Art in Britain. The Blake section is pp. 144-49.

Kitson, Michael and Alexandra Wedgwood. “William Blake: The Spiritual Form of Nelson guiding Leviathan.” 2 pp. (unnumbered) and large color repro. in Art of the Western World: English Painting. New York, 1964.

Lande, Lawrence. “McGill’s Blake Collection.” McGill Reporter, 3 April 1969.

Lang, The Library, no. 2097C. The 1892 edition was also published in London.

Langbaum, Robert. The Poetry of Experience. New York, 1957. Passim.

Las Vergnas, Raymond. “William Blake.” Les Lettres, vol. II, 1946, Cahier Special 5-6. Pp. 59-73.

Locker, Frederick. “The Illustrations in Mrs. Godwin’s ‘Elements of Morality’.” Notes and Queries, I, 6th S. (19 June 1880), 493-94.

MacDonald, Sanity of Blake, no. 2168. There is a “New Issue” of 1920.

McLuhan, Marshall and Harley Parker. “The Tyger.” Pp. 138-41 in Through the Vanishing Point. New York, 1969.

Mullaly, Terence. “Drawing by Blake Sold for 4,000 gns.” Daily Telegraph, 11 Feb. 1958.

Palmer, Life and Letters of Samuel Palmer, no. 2353. Rpt. London, 1972, with a new “Introductory Essay” by Raymond Lister and a new “Preface” by Kathleen Raine.

Paris, H. J. “Rowlandson and Blake.” Pp. 33-36 in English Water Colour Painters. London, 1945.

Pearson, Banbury Chap Books, no. 2371. In spite of the mention of Blake on the title-page, the wood engraving reproduced from Thornton’s Virgil has nothing to do with Blake. It is a cut printed on the verso of the scene painted by Poussin, drawn by Blake, and cut by Byfield.

Pevsner, Englishness of English Art, no. 2388. Rpt. London, 1964.

Piper, John. “Vision and Imagination.” Pp. 24-32 in British Romantic Artists. London, 1946.

Quayle, Thomas. “William Blake.” Bibby’s Annual, 1921. Pp. 53-54.

Raine, Kathleen. “Thomas Taylor in England.” In Thomas Taylor the Platonist: Selected Writings, ed. Kathleen Raine and George Mills Harper. Princeton, 1969. Passim.

Redgrave, Samuel. “William Blake.” In A Dictionary of Artists of the English School. London, 1873. Second ed., London, 1878; rpt. London, 1970. Pp. 44-45.

Reti, Ladislao. “Leonardo da Vinci and the Graphic Arts: The Early Invention of Relief-Etching.” Burlington Magazine, CXIII (April 1971), 189-95.

Leonardo’s methods are compared to Blake’s.

Rosenblum, Robert. Transformations in Late Eighteenth-Century Art. Princeton, 1967. Second printing, with revisions, 1969. Third printing, with revisions, 1970. Passim.

The Rossetti-Macmillan Letters. Ed. Lona Mosk Packer. Berkeley and Cambridge, 1963. Minor Blake references in letters of 1863-64.

Shipp, Horace. “William Blake Makes a Minority Report.” Pp. 96-107 in The British Masters: A Survey and Guide. London, [1943?].

Story, Blake, no. 2772A. The first edition was issued in both large and small paper formats, the former with four plates not in the latter.

Todd, Ruthven. “Miro in New York: A Reminiscence.Malahat Review, no. 1 (1967), 77-92. Rpt. as a 15 pp. booklet, Brookville, New York, 1967. Contains some details about Todd’s experiments with relief etching not recorded elsewhere.

Vaizey, Marina. “Blake,” Arts Review, 18 Dec. 1971. On the exhibition of Gray designs at the Tate.

Wallis, Nevile. “Blake’s Vision.” The Spectator, 14 Aug. 1964.

White, Gleeson. The Master Painters of Britain. Birmingham, 1910. Pp. 56-59.

On the “Canterbury Pilgrims” and “Death’s Door.”

Whitley, William T. Artists and Their Friends in England, 1700-1799. London and Boston, 1928. Vol. I, pp. 277, 311, 375; vol. II, 336.

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Art in England 1800-1820. Cambridge, 1928. Pp. 10. 105, 127-28, 155.

Williams, Iolo A. Early English Watercolours. London, 1952; Bath, 1970. Pp. 117-21.

I fear that the fit audience, though few, who have followed the entire course of this review may come to two conclusions: (1) Essick’s mind is pickled in trivia; (2) Bentley’s book is seriously flawed. I hope I can disabuse you of the latter. A book that lists over 3,000 items is bound to include some mistakes. The ones that I have listed here are at worst simple errors in fact, limited to individual entries, and in no way indicate flaws in Bentley’s bibliographic principles or logic. My perspective, as usual, has been that of the collector and chalcographer, interested in minor bibliographic “points,” rather than that of the literary critic. I could fill even more pages than I have here with a recitation of Bentley’s discoveries, corrections to previously published bibliographies, and sound deductions about such complexities as the printing sequence of the illuminated books. Sir Geoffrey remains, in his ninetieth year, the King of Blake bibliographers (and long may he reign!), but surely the author of Blake Books is the heir apparent.

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