BBC’s Radio Four are running a series of programmes about William Blake whose 250 anniversary is today. Michael Morpurgo’s story on Monday is a fantastic short story which takes the ideal of Blake and transposes it to a Palestinian shepherd boy.
Blake’s one of those figures who appears in background, sort of like the Velvet Underground. He’s known for one or two works, is a strong influence but hasn’t really achieved the recognition as an artist that he deserves (although Peter Ackroyd has written this fantastic biography). Jerusalem and Tyger, Tyger are well known but he has this way of juxtaposing the supernatural and natural in his poetry and art which tend to be ignored now. He’s certainly a big influence on Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman shares his trait of real/unreal.
Jenny Uglow, the historian and biographer, has a fantastic and listenable show on him which also features Tom Paulin and so on, placing him in context and also discussing his work. Well worth a listen.