The William Blake Blog

Divine Images: The Life and Work of William Blake

Although relatively obscure during his lifetime, William Blake has become one of the most popular English artists and writers, through poems such as ‘The Tyger’ and ‘Jerusalem’, and images including The Ancient of Days. Less well-known is Blake’s radical religious and political temperament, and that his visionary art was created to express a personal mythology that sought to recreate an entirely new approach to philosophy and art. This book examines both Blake’s visual and poetic work over his long career, from early engravings and poems to his final illustrations to Dante and the Book of Job. Divine Images further explores Blake’s immense popular appeal and influence after his death.

Reviews and Recommendations
Publishers Weekly

‘an insightful guide to the artistry of William Blake. . . Focusing on how political and religious currents affected Blake’s art, Whittaker shows, in particular, how the idealistic hopes raised by the French Revolution among Blake and his contemporaries led him to imagine how his own society could be liberated from oppressive political structures and social strictures . . . Whittaker also exhibits how Blake’s work as an engraver and printmaker illuminated his poetry . . . Whittaker makes a strong case for why Blake remains “one of the greatest poets and artists ever to have lived in the British Isles.”’

The Prisma

‘a superb new book about Blake . . . What makes Divine images such good value for a hardback is its wealth of colour images testifying to Blake’s artistry as painter and printmaker as well as poet. The high quality of the book’s reproductions shows how inseparable his poems are from the illustrations he made for them.’

International Times

‘Jason Whittaker’s Divine Images is a fantastic mix of biography, art criticism and literary engagement which serves as a wonderful introduction to this complex and confusing artist . . . By having a focused and informed eye, and writing through the lens of William Blake’s work, Whittaker has produced a clearsighted and informative, highly readable biography and culturally expansive book.’

Joseph Viscomi, James G. Kenan Distinguished Professor of English Literature, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Divine Images is the ideal guide for anyone wanting to know the life and works of William Blake – or to return to what they thought they knew. It is excellent both as an introduction to and overview of the historic Blake, exploring his poetry and art in their time and place and his inspiring legacy through the 19th century up to the present day.’

Sibylle Erle, Reader in English Literature at Bishop Grosseteste University and the author of 'Blake, Lavater, and Physiognomy'

‘William Blake was influenced by Shakespeare, Milton and the Bible. Divine Images re-familiarises the old and powerful stories, disentangles the themes of the prophetic books and celebrates the ingenuity of the lyric poetry, while contextualising all in the visual and political culture of Blake’s day. Jason Whittaker’s beautifully written book puts Blake’s spirituality and humanism centre stage. He explains what in Blake appealed to the Victorian and Modernist eras and still inspires contemporary artists, writers and musicians.’

Morris Eaves, Professor of English and Richard L. Turner Professor of Humanities at the University of Rochester and the editor of 'The Cambridge Companion to William Blake'

‘No one can survive the impossible, irresistible Blake without an introduction. Jason Whittaker’s is superior – readable, knowledgeable, comprehensive, up to date. Highly recommended for anyone trying to follow Blake’s golden thread.’

Author: Jason Whittaker

108 illustrations, 77 in colour

20% off when you order with Reaktion Books

To order the book online with a 20% discount, please click the link below to visit the Reaktion website at and enter the code DIVINE21.

Buy Divine Images at 20% off