Traces of Tradition?

  • John Beer
Part of the Literary Lives book series (LL)


During his childhood Blake’s independence of mind had been bolstered by the fact that he did not receive a conventional education (another possible sign of influence from the Moravians, who were against exposing children to formal schooling). Instead, he was sent to Henry Pars’s Drawing School, where, in the spirit of the age, he was taught above all things to copy correctly.


Royal Academy Conventional Education Love Poem Mathematical Diagram Portrait Painting 
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  1. 3.
    See Mrs [A. E.] Bray, Life of Thomas Stothard, R.A. (1851). ‘Blake’s First Arrest, at Upnor Castle,’ BQ XXXI (1997–8) 82–4 and BSP 59–60, where it is accompanied by a plate (27) showing Stothard’s design recording the event.Google Scholar
  2. 14.
    TWB 28–9, etc. His pointing out that Blake’s mother’s name, as entered in the marriage registry of her wedding, was ‘Hermitage’, a noted Muggletonian surname (and not as in Blake Records ‘Harmitage’), was undermined by the discovery that her legal name (from her first marriage) was in fact ‘Armitage’: see Keri Davies, ‘William Blake’s mother: a new identification’, Blake: An Illustrated Quarterly (1999) XXXIII 28, 39, 41 and BSP. The rates on her first husband’s property, 28 Broad Street, were paid from 1748 to 1752 by ‘— Armitage’ (BR 551–2), but in 1753 were taken over by James Blake; on the other hand, the name of ‘Thomas Hermitage, hosier of Broad Street’ appeared among the voters in the 1749 Westminster election. Laura Wright, an expert on London pronunciation and writing, finds no puzzle in the discrepancy, in view of the known variations in pronunciation and spelling at the time. The Westminster vote may have been recorded by an officer who heard the name as what was the more common form in the south of England.Google Scholar
  3. 21.
    See Morton Paley, The Traveller in the Evening (Oxford 2003) pp. 6–7.Google Scholar
  4. Andrew Welburn, The Truth of Imagination (1989) pp. 18–19 et passim.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 6.
    F. W. Bateson, Selected Poems of William Blake (1957).Google Scholar
  6. Cf. Kathleen Raine, Blake and Tradition (1969) 120.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Rev. XIX, 6. See Heather Glen, Vision and Disenchantment: Blake’s Songs and Wordsworth’s Lyrical Ballads, (Cambridge, 1983), p. 124.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Andrew Baxter, An Enquiry into the Nature of the Human Soul (1745) I 296.Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    See e.g. the accounts gathered in Judith Plotz, Romanticism and the Vocation of Childhood (2001) pp. 91–106.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    E 680, 37–8; K 799, 153. Cf. Peter Ackroyd, William Blake (1995) p. 159.Google Scholar
  11. 20.
    John Bunyan, The Pilgrims Progress (Cambridge 1862) pp. 174–5. Bunyan relates Pilgrim’s sickness specifically to the ‘love-sickness’ in the Song of Solomon.Google Scholar
  12. 23.
    Tristanne J. Connolly, William Blake and the Body (2002).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© John Beer 2005

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  • John Beer

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