Visionary poet and artist William Blake are one of the most vivid figures in British Romantic literature and to celebrate his impact a week of events began in Lincoln on 16 September 2019 with the launch of The Reception of William Blake in Europe at Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU).
Edited by Dr Sibylle Erle, Reader in English Literature at BGU, alongside Professor Morton D. Paley (University of California, Berkeley), the book is the first comprehensive and systematic reference guide to Blake’s influence across Europe. Exploring Blake’s impact on literature, art, music and culture, the book includes bibliographies of major critical responses, exhibitions and translations of Blake’s work in each country covered, as well as a publication history and timeline of the poet’s reception on the continent.
The launch event at BGU was a tremendous success allowing Dr Erle and Professor Paley to meet with colleagues, students and Blake enthusiasts to discuss and share stories of the many years of working with European colleagues. It was followed later in the week by an additional launch in London at Senate House with the Series Editor Professor Elinor Shaffer before a Symposium at Tate Britain (20 September 2019).
Contributors met with Martin Myrone (curator of the William Blake exhibition now open at the Tate and contributor to the volumes) bright and early for a curator’s tour at the staff entrance. The event, which lasted all day, was hosted by the Tate and supported by BGU.
Other events in the week included Professor Morton D. Paley speaking at the Tennyson Research Centre about Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s copy of Blake’s Illustrations of the Book of Job. Tennyson received his copy in 1856, a present by his friend Benjamin Jowett, and through it Paley explored Blake's masterpiece in front of a select audience to a warm and enthusiastic response.
Speaking at the end of the week Dr Erle expressed her pride at being involved in such an important cross-continental effort:
“I am tired but so very happy. These were inspiring days, full of joy and inspiration. It was good for the soul. With the Brexit on the horizon, it felt good to come together as a European community of academics and talk about Blake.”