Today is the anniversary of the death of William Blake, who passed away at the age of 69 in 1827. He and his wife Catherine were living at that time at 3 Fountain Court, London, and though Blake was largely neglected at the time of his death in the previous decade he had begun to make friendships among young artists who would pass on knowledge of his art and poetry. One of those friends, George Richmond, wrote to Samuel Palmer:
My Dr Friend
Lest you should not have heard of the Death of Mr Blake I have written this to inform you – He died on Sunday Night at 6 Oclock in a most glorious manner[.] He said He was going to that Country he had all His life wished to see & expressed Himself Happy hoping for Salvation through Jesus Christ – Just before he died His Countenance became fair – His eyes brighten’d and He burst out in Singing of the things he Saw in Heaven[.] In truth He Died like a Saint as a person who was standing by Him Observed – He is to be Buryed on Friday at 12 in morng[.] (Cited in G. E. Bentley, Blake Records, p.464)
As is traditional, the Blake Society will meet on the first Sunday after the anniversary of Blake’s death at his grave. This year, the meeting will take place at 12 noon, Sunday 15 August at Bunhill Fields, 38 City Road London EC1Y 1AU. The Bunhill celebration, which dates back to the birth of the Society, is open to all and anyone can participate without notice or election (so attend if you want to read a poem, sing or join other Blake enthusiasts for lunch and conversation).
In addition this year Robin Hatton-Gore will talk about the topography of the area and will triangulate Bunhill Fields with the graveyard of the Wesley Chapel and the Quaker Burial Ground. Robin Hatton-Gore was the gardener in charge of Bunhill Fields for several years and is completing a book on the importance of this area to the Dissenting tradition. More details can be found at http://www.blakesociety.org/2010/03/16/bunhill-fields-2/.