Life and Works of William Blake by Alexander Gilchrist 1st 1880


New and enlarged edition in two volumes in original blue cloth with elaborate pictorial cover illustration and titling in gilt, designed by Frederic Shields. This set is in near fine condition. The boards are bright and retain all of the gilt work. The spines are in good order. The top of the spine of volume 2 is a tad soft. There is a contemporary previous owner's name on the front free end paper of each volume. There is very mild and occasional foxing marks on the odd page. The front free end papers of both volumes are browned. Otherwise the pages and plates are clean and free from any other marks. Overall it is a very nice set packed full of illustrations and rare in this condition. 


The Life and Works of William Blake is a two-volume work first published in 1863. The first volume is a biography and the second a compilation of Blake's poetry, prose, artwork and illustrated manuscript.

The book was largely written by Alexander Gilchrist, who had spent many years compiling the material and interviewing Blake's surviving friends. However, Gilchrist had left it incomplete at his sudden death from scarlet fever in 1861. The work was published two years later, having been completed by his widow Anne Gilchrist with help from Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Michael Rossetti.

The book became the first standard text on the Blake, a foundation of the extensive scholarship on his life and work. . This is the second edition published in 1880; this included additional material and revisions to the earlier transcripts of Blake's work and Gilchrist's bibliographical details and is arguably the better of the two editions. The work reproduced many of Blake's illustrations from public and private collections, interspersed throughout the biography and series of plates from his illuminated books. Many of these were engraved by William James Linton. Other designs, commentary and the second edition's cover were provided by Frederic Shields.


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