William Blake was an English poet, painter, and printmaker.
Printmaking is the process of making artworks by printing, normally on paper.
William Blake: Biography of a Great Thinker by Socratica
Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age.
Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning.
William Blake's radicalism by The British Library
His so-called prophetic works were said by 20th century critic Northrop Frye to form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language".
Herman Northrop Frye CC FRSC was a Canadian literary critic and literary theorist, considered one of the most influential of the 20th century.
His visual artistry led 21st-century critic Jonathan Jones to proclaim him "far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced".
In 2002, Blake was placed at number 38 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.
Although he lived in London his entire life, he produced a diverse and symbolically rich œuvre, which embraced the imagination as "the body of God" or "human existence itself".
London is the capital and most populous city of England and the United Kingdom.
Although Blake was considered mad by contemporaries for his idiosyncratic views, he is held in high regard by later critics for his expressiveness and creativity, and for the philosophical and mystical undercurrents within his work.
His paintings and poetry have been characterised as part of the Romantic movement and as "Pre-Romantic".
Romanticism was an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850.
Reverent of the Bible but hostile to the Church of England, Blake was influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French and American Revolutions.
The American Revolution was a political upheaval that took place between 1765 and 1783 during which colonists in the Thirteen American Colonies rejected the British monarchy and aristocracy, overthrew the authority of Great Britain, and founded the United States of America.
The Church of England is the Anglican Christian state church of England.
Though later he rejected many of these political beliefs, he maintained an amiable relationship with the political activist Thomas Paine; he was also influenced by thinkers such as Emanuel Swedenborg.
Thomas Paine was an English-American political activist, philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary.
Emanuel Swedenborg was a Swedish scientist, philosopher, theologian, revelator, and mystic.
Despite these known influences, the singularity of Blake's work makes him difficult to classify.
The 19th-century scholar William Rossetti characterised him as a "glorious luminary", and "a man not forestalled by predecessors, nor to be classed with contemporaries, nor to be replaced by known or readily surmisable successors".