The Blake Society has commissioned a new gravestone from the leading letter-cutter in England, the Cardozo Kindersley Workshop, to commemorate the newly discovered grave of the Artist poet. William Blake died on 12 August 1827 and was buried in an unmarked grave. After two years of research and some painstaking work with a tape measure, members of the society found what they believe to be the spot. Fundraising including crowdfunding followed. The society raised £30,000 (33,500 euros, $38,300) through donations from around the world.
“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.” – Blake
The engraved slab of Portland Stone unveiled on Sunday reads: “Here lies William Blake, 1757-1827, Poet Artist Prophet”, followed his verse. “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.”
“It matters that we recognise those who have contributed to our cultural heritage, and no creative genius has influenced people to the extraordinary extent as William Blake,” Nick Duncan, a trustee of the Blake Society stated.
The unveiling ceremony was marked with music and personal reflections from eminent & immanent Blakeans who have supported this project over the last twelve years.
There was a performance of a specially commissioned choral work by the Australian composer Chris Williams sung by Sansara. The vocal trio Blake, celebrating their tenth anniversary sang Jerusalem. A set of songs were performed including acappella by Nicki Wells. Speakers included society President Philip Pullman, the poet, singer-songwriter, priest, and academic Malcolm Guite, the bass guitarist and poet Jah Wobble, satirist Will Franken and the poet Stephen Micalef.
The Unveiling concluded with a candle ceremony where everyone was invited to place one of 191 candles around the grave, marking the 191 years since Blake’s death.
William Blake was born at Broad Street, Soho, in 1757, the third son (and second surviving) of James Blake, haberdasher and hosier, and his wife Catherine. As a boy he attended Henry Pars’ drawing school near the Strand, and was later apprenticed to the engraver James Basire, for whom, among other projects, Blake made drawings and engravings of the monuments of Westminster Abbey. He continued to work as an engraver throughout his life alongside his prophetic books and paintings. Blake married Catherine Boucher in 1782. Blake lived most of his life in London, apart from three years’ slumber by the sea at Felpham in Sussex in the years 1800-1803. He died in 1827.
Blake died in obscurity in 1827 and was buried in an unmarked common grave in Bunhill Fields, a London cemetery.