He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star.

William Blake was born at Broad Street, Soho, in 1757, the third son (and second surviving) of James Blake, haberdasher and hosier, and his wife Catherine.

As a boy he attended Henry Pars’ drawing school near the Strand, and was later apprenticed to the engraver James Basire, for whom, among other projects, Blake made drawings and engravings of the monuments of Westminster Abbey. He continued to work as an engraver throughout his life alongside his prophetic books and paintings.

Blake married Catherine Boucher in 1782.

Blake lived almost all his life in London, apart from three years’ slumber by the sea at Felpham in Sussex in the years 1800-1803. He died in 1827, and is buried at Bunhill Fields.

There are many biographies of Blake. The first, by Alexander Gilchrist, was published in 1863 and can be read here.