The Blake Society
‘I give you the end of a golden string,
Only wind it into a ball:
It will lead you in at Heavens gate,
Built in Jerusalems wall.’
The Blake Society was founded in 1985 and is a fast-growing community of members from all over the world. Whether you are just beginning to be curious about Blake’s work, or have been enjoying and studying it for decades, we welcome you into our Society. The Society’s aim is to celebrate the visionary work of William and Catherine Blake in all its manifestations of poetry, prose, and artwork. We also strive to inspire, to encourage and to give a platform to work arising from Blake’s incredible influence on artists, scientists, writers, musicians, performers and academics around the globe. We invite you to join us in this endeavour, exploring Blake’s work through live and online events of every kind.
As a registered charity we charge a minimal amount for the many benefits of membership, which include free access to the majority of events, a free email newsletter and a copy of the Blake Society journal, VALA. We have partnerships with the Swedenborg Society at Swedenborg House, Cambridge School of Art (ARU), St. James’s Church (Piccadilly, London), Global Blake (University of Lincoln), the Bradford Literature Festival and the Spiritual Arts Foundation (St. Albans). We support the aims of the Blake Cottage Trust in restoring the Blake Cottage and are in conversation with the William Blake Fellowship who lead on saving the only other surviving Blake property at 17 South Molton Street, London.
— We want to work towards the bi-centenary of Blake’s death in 1827 – #Blake200 – to prove that Blake is more relevant than ever.
— We want to prioritise collaboration, be bold, and engage with the public, including young people who will encounter Blake for the first time.
— We want to think creatively as equal partners, so that we can collectively imagine the role that Blake can play.
The picture above shows the 1912 Society. We hope to invite you to join us in a photograph of our Blake Society, either in-person or through the magic of technology, in the not-too-distant future.
The Society has a distinguished pantheon of past Presidents and Patrons, including Philip Pullman and Kathleen Raine. Our current president is the celebrated poet, author, performer and playwright Kae Tempest and our patrons are Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore and Mike and Kate Westbrook.
We are in a direct line of descent from the Blake Society founded in 1912 by Thomas Wright. This earlier incarnation was inspired by a suggestion made by W.B.Yeats and Edwin Ellis, editors of the first full edition of Blake’s work. Members included other early Titans of Blake studies: Geoffrey Keynes, Joseph Wicksteed, Dr Greville MacDonald, and the president Sir William Blake Richmond K.B. Women were strongly represented in the membership although, unlike the Society today, noticeably absent from the Trustees of 1912. Miss E. Harnden was a member, giving her address as ‘Blake’s Cottage, Felpham, Sussex’. Members hailed from England, Scotland, France, Portugal, South Africa, Canada and Tokyo. Today’s members span six continents.
Their motto was: “Blessed are those who are found studious of literature… Such have their lamps burning and such shall shine as the stars.” – Letter from Blake to Flaxman, 1801.
The contemporary Blake Society and friends at the unveiling of Blake’s gravestone in 2018.
The Blake Society is a Registered Charity, No 1106130.
Mike and Kate Westbrook
Sibylle Erle (Chair)
Stephen Pritchard (Secretary)
Camila Oliveira Querino
Annise Rogers (Membership Secretary)
Jason Whittaker (Treasurer)
Our Constitution can be downloaded here
Minutes of the 2024 AGM can be downloaded here
Accounts for 2023 can be downloaded here