William Blake was born in London, the son of a hosier, and was educated at home by his mother. After working initially as an engraver, he turned to painting and poetry, illustrating and hand colouring his own works.
Always a non-conformist free spirit, his poetry is often elaborately symbolic, mysterious, and spiritual. He married Catherine Boucher in 1782, lived most of his life in straightened circumstances, died in 1827 and was buried in an unmarked grave in Bunhill Fields public cemetary.
Although probably admired more for his drawing during his lifetime, he has come to be regarded as one of the greatest English poets since his death.