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In ONE -Two paragraphs – Historical Events notes provided below, Blake is a product of an evolution in thought. Based on the Brief Biography of William Blake (and his art work!), Blake may be considered somewhat of a revolutionary in both thought and in action. Considering the information provided and, of course, the poem, who do you think William Blake may be rebelling against in his poem The Chimney Sweeperand what is the irony of the final line of the poem, So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm?
Brief biography of William Blake

William Blake British (1757-1827) grandfather of Romantic Movement

Sees angels in the trees
Very spiritual
Not formally educated although he went to art school at ten. Check out Blakes, much later in life drawings at William Blakes Paintings Image Results. Very cool.
Apprenticed to an engraver at 14 years old.
His family was of modest means. He had to work.
Married at 24 to Catherine Boucher. Catherine was illiterate, so Blake taught her to read.
1794 publishes Songs of Innocence and of Experience. 
According to the Norton Anthology of English Literature, the turning point of Blakes life came in 1803 when he attacked by a private in the Royal Dragoons (British military) who refused to leave his property and threatened and cursed Blake and his wife. Blake pushed him (soldier) 50 yards to the inn where he was quartered. Blake was charged with sedition but beat the case. (Abrams) NOTE: One might suggest that the British Crown was threatened by Blakes writing. You be the judge as we read his poetry.

Note: Reading Blake, check out his artwork online under

William Blake Painting Image Results. Its really worth it!

Historical events in relation to the Romantic Period (1785-1830) in literature 2) Brief Biography of William Blake (1757-1827) 3) Read The Grey Monk www.bartleby.com/235/138.htm  (You will  have to type in The Grey Monk and William Blake as this site doesn’t come up by clicking on it)  and The Chimney Sweeper www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43654 by William Blake. 4)  The Chimney Sweeper by William Blake.

Historical Events

Prior to, and occurring during, the Romantic Period (1785-1830) in literature, there are significant events that may have played a part in influencing the authors of the Romantic Period and allowed them to flourish.

The Enlightenment Period (1715-1789).
The Industrial Revolution (1760 est. 1840/1860).
The American Revolution (1775 1783).
Declaration of Independence (1776).
The French Revolution (1789-1799) Storming of the Bastille July 14th 1789. Reign of terror follows. *Note: For a classic film version of this historical event check out A Tale of Two Cities (1935 I know! black and white, but worth it) based on the novel by Charles Dickens. Or read the Dickens novel if you are interested. It really does capture the glory of the storming of the Bastille and the horror that follows during the Reign of Terror.
The Romantic Period in literature begins in 1785
We can see the word revolution has a real cachet at this time in history.  And it is important to consider the Romantic Period as a revolution in writing. Prior to the Romantics, writers were restricted by form and in many ways content. Consider writers, for centuries, were writing for the part of the population who were literate, and writers were also writing at the behest and for the pleasure of the nobility.  The Romantic Period changes that…somewhat.

Also note: In England, unlike in France, the citizens within the country were not uprisingor were they in their own way?  Nevertheless, the American Revolution was taking place an ocean (Atlantic) away.  In England, even to this day, a monarch still sits on the throne.


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