B IS FOR "Biography."

Although writing is generally accepted to be a solitary profession, there is a lot to learn from other writers. Particularly ones who made their careers out of writing and were entrepreneurs in the writing industry.

William Blake:

Blake was a poet who was born in London on November 28, 1757. Not only a poet, he was an amazing artist who combined his artistic abilities with his poetry to create beautiful, ethereal images to accompany his poems. In his early years, Blake claimed to experience visions of God and angels. His parents didn't believe him, yet acknowledged that he was different from other children. At age ten, Blake wanted to be an artist and his parents sent him to drawing school. At age twelve, Blake began writing poetry. Due to the cost of art school, a fourteen-year-old Blake began an apprenticeship under James Basire, an engraver to the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Society. 

Copy engraving was a tedious process involving many time-consuming, labor-intensive steps. Although Blake earned a meager living from his work during his lifetime, the important thing is that he persevered with it. He must have loved both illustrating and writing poetry to make such art for one piece of writing. Each engraving is a masterpiece which endures for both its beauty and its message. 

He experimented with etching to give us "illuminated manuscripts," and used it for most of his well-known works. Instead of applying the usual engraving method he had been trained in, he invented an entirely new manner of etching, called "relief etching." For this, he can be considered an entrepreneur as well as a poet-artist.

The Ancient of Days by William Blake
I have long since admired Blake's poetry and his engravings, but the time I spent on this blog has encouraged me to pull out his poems again. But when I do, I will wish I had copies of his illuminated manuscripts—not just the printed poems. 

I think it's important to remember how books are meant to be enjoyed in all possible ways: cuddling, smelling, savoring, losing oneself in. Cuddling with my iPad just doesn't have the same feel to a paperback book. When I drop it on my face while in bed, it hurts. And reading Blake's poetry without the genius of his engravings? Well, it's incomplete.

Biography information:

Etching information:

For prints of Blake's awesomeness, check out this website: