This page gives information on new activities about William Blake. If you know of events, forthcoming books, films or media coverage, or other activities in the coming months that we should feature here, please do let us know through the Contact page.
NB: Events are listed here as we become aware of them (the most recent discoveries at the top), not in their date order. Once an event has occurred, we place it in A Blakean Archive. If you went to one of these events, why not use our Contact page to offer us a Finding Blake post about it?
Five New Blake Walks Finding Blake contributor Niall McDevitt has five new Blake walks in London in August 2021. Niall is an Irish poet based in London with a passion for exploring where historic poets lived, worked, and died. His research - ‘psychogeographical explorations’ - have been fine-tuned into popular walks tracing the lives of William Blake, Rimbaud and Verlaine, Thomas De Quincey, W.B. Yeats, and many others. For all five walks, prices and booking details, see New River Press. WILLIAM BLAKE AND TOM PAINE Sunday, August 1, 2021 (2:00 PM 4:30 PM) Though most biographers accept there was an acquaintanceship between the philosopher Paine and the poet-painter Blake, there has been little attempt to imagine the massive impact the connection might have had on the younger man. The 50-something firebrand must have been the most exciting person Blake had ever met. Did Paine radicalise Blake? To what extent did Blake homage Paine in the character Orc, and rebuke Paine in the character Urizen? This walk progresses from Angel to Soho locating the disappeared streets where Paine held court to literary London in 1791 and where Catherine Blake died a lonely widow on 18 Oct 1831. WILLIAM BLAKE AND BEDLAM Sunday, August 8, 2021 (2:00 PM 5:00 PM) When William Blake died in 1827 a spate of posthumous articles appeared in various magazines questioning his sanity. One hoax article even claimed to have interviewed Blake in Bethlehem Hospital where he had supposedly been an inmate for twenty years. In Blake's own writings, though Jerusalem is namechecked countless times, Bethlehem is only mentioned once, disparagingly. This walk takes in the site of London's three historic Bethlehem Hospitals, and follows Los's route in Jerusalem from the Tower of London to the 'Dens of despair in the house of bread' aka Bedlam. WILLIAM BLAKE AND THE RIVER TYBURN Sunday, August 15, 2021 (2:00 PM 4:30 PM) In 1803 William Blake returned to London, but was still facing a sedition trial in Sussex in early 1804. Finding himself living within view of the disused site of Tyburn and on a street where the River Tyburn was flowing directly underneath, he developed a new humanitarian symbol for the final phase of his spiritual polemic. This walk joins the course of the River Tyburn at Baker Street, finds the site of the lost medieval Tyburn Church, and tries to locate the mysterious 'Tyburn Brook'. WILLIAM BLAKE AND SWEDENBORG Sunday, August 22, 2021 (2:00 PM 5:00 PM) As Swedenborg was the mystical teacher who later 'turned on' great Europeans such Balzac, Baudelaire and Strindberg, so he had performed a similar service for Blake at the time of the French Revolution. For some, Swedenborg seems to prophesy Blake. For others, he is a figure of fun, who has never fully recovered from Blake's satirical portrait in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. The two seem to appear together in Blake's recurring image of London as an old man led by a child. This walk begins at the site of Swedenborg's burial, ends at the site of his final London dwelling-place and death in 1772, and will try to locate the site of the Church of the New Jerusalem where Blake and Catherine attended a weeklong conference in 1789. BLAKE AND BACON: TWO SOHO ARTISTS Sunday, August 29, 2021 (2:00 PM 4:30 PM) It's hard to think of two English artists who seem more diametrically opposed than William Blake and Francis Bacon. While one is renowned as England's greatest religious artist, the other is equally renowned for the atheism of his oeuvre. Though Bacon hated Blake's art, he was still fascinated by the man. Bacon had a copy of Blake's life-mask in his Reece Mews studio, and - working from a b/w photo - painted a series of six discomfiting studies. This walk begins in Mayfair where Blake lived in obscurity and Bacon first exhibited Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion. It then explores the 18th century Soho that was Blake's birthplace alongside the 20th century Soho that was Bacon's playground.