The Award Ceremony of the 2017 Tithe Grant was held on 13 December 2017 at the City of London Archives Centre that holds the most important collection of Blake’s original letters.

As befits an Award for a ‘Letter’, the winner was announced in a Letter – from the judge Tracy Chevalier:

‘Reading the 7 shortlisted entries for this year’s Tithe Grant Award was a great pleasure, and also an eye-opener, reminding me once again that Blake was a man out of time who would have had much to say to any era. From terrorism to social media, Segways to Trump, consumerism to overmedication, slavery to mechanisation, the 7 letter writers skilfully dissected today’s woes both general and particular, imitating Blake’s unique voice.

However, one entry in particular read as if Blake himself were speaking. It was that wonderful marriage of an exuberant, almost jazz-like rhythm and tone with righteous indignation that yet maintains a child’s-eye view of the world. For channeling the visionary Blake and giving us a letter the man himself would have approved of, the 2017 Tithe Grant Award goes to Will Franken.’

Our congratulations to Will Franken, a person who escapes description: actor, comedian, satirist, film-maker and scholar of 18th Century literature.
Will Franken’s website

Here is Will Franken’s Award winning letter as text:

Tithe Grant Award 2017 Will Franken

And here is Will reading his own letter in an extraordinary performance:
Will Franken reads Blake’s letter to Palmer

There were approaching 50 entries to the 2017 Tithe Grant with letters coming from as far afield as Germany, Italy, Taiwan, New Zealand and the United States of America.

Will Franken receiving the award from the Chair

The published Guidelines for the 2017 Award are archived below for your interest:

The 2017 Tithe Grant will be awarded to a letter inspired by Blake’s own correspondence.

Each year the Society gives a grant to encourage a work of the imagination. We call it the Tithe Grant because the prize is funded by donating 10% of the income from our annual subscriptions. The theme of the Grant changes every year – music, photography, film, aphorisms, painting … and for 2017 the topic is Letters.

William Blake’s own letters are so challenging & extraordinary that we are inviting people to write a letter that Blake might have written himself today.

We try to invite a Judge who champions the particular theme of the year – for example we were honoured to have the Master of the Queen’s Music Judith Weir for choral music, the Hollywood director Alan Parker for film, the Turner Prize Winner Jeremy Deller for drawing and Stephen Fry for aphorisms.

For the 2017 Tithe Grant we are delighted that the Judge will be Tracy Chevalier. She has published nine novels including Burning Bright [2007] about William Blake and perhaps her most famous novel is Girl With a Pearl Earring [1999] about the painter Johannes Vermeer.

The Tithe Grant is open to anyone, anywhere and is entirely free to enter.


A Letter is deemed to contain less than 1000 words

Entries may be sent by email to
or posted to:
Tithe Grant 2017
The Blake Society
St James’s Church
197 Piccadilly
London W1J 9LL

Entries must be received by 28 November 2017.

The winning entry and runners up will be announced at the December Blake Society event to be held at the City of Westminster Archives Centre on 13 December 2017.

Unfortunately the Blake Society is unable to return submissions sent by post.

Any questions should be emailed to:

Here are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions:

Q : Are you imagining Blake coming back from the grave to write this letter?
A : Yes, alive with the anger and poetry of a prophet writing today.
Q : So, you are not looking for a clever 18C pastiche?
A : Certainly not; we are looking for William Blake, wherever and whoever she might be, now.
Q : What is the financial value of the 2017 Tithe Grant?
A : £469 representing 10% of our subscription income from 2016.
Q : If I do not live in the UK may I take part?
A : Yes! Previous winners have come from as far away as Australia and Alaska.
Q : If I am not a citizen of the UK may I take part?
A : Yes! The only Nation is the ImagiNation.
Q : Do I have to be a member of the Blake Society to take part?
A : No. All are welcome.
Q : Do I have to be over 18 years of age to enter?
A : Yes.
Q : How many letters may I submit?
A : You can submit as many letters as you wish.
Q : Should entries be anonymous?
A : No, indeed please remember to include your full name and address including email and phone so that we might contact you in case you are a finalist.
Q : Can a letter contain a drawing or doodle or a graphic element?
A : Why not?
Q : Where can I find examples of Blake’s own letters?
A : They are all published in the collected works of Blake and also in separate editions of The Letters.
Q : Did Blake sign one of his letters : Your Devoted Rebel ?
A : Indeed, he did.
Q : Are there any love letters that survive between Catherine and William ?
A : None – except for the one you write …
Q : Truly, could it be a love letter?
A : Are not all true letters, love letters.
Q : What should the content of a letter be about?
A : Whatever Blake might have written about today.
Q : But could it be about everyday matters – the humdrum administration of a life?
A : Administration is divine.
Q : Will the Award be announced online?
A : Yes, details of the Finalists and the Winner will be announced on our website on this page shortly after the Award Ceremony.