Author of the ‘The Tyger’ and ‘Jerusalem’, the visionary poet and artist William Blake is one of the most vivid figures in British Romantic literature and Dr Sibylle Erle, Reader in English Literature at Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU), has been involved in a new project to highlight his influence across Europe.
Edited by Dr Erle, alongside Morton D. Paley, and with chapters written by leading international scholars, The Reception of William Blake in Europe is the first comprehensive and systematic reference guide to Blake’s influence across Europe. Exploring Blake’s impact on literature, art, music and culture, the book includes bibliographies of major translations of Blake’s work in each country covered, as well as a publication history and timeline of the poet’s reception on the continent.
The ambitious and demanding project began life six years ago at the invitation of Elinor Shaffer, the series editor of the longstanding and successful series The Reception of British and Irish Authors in Europe, and from that point Dr Erle has been central to its success.
In addition to editing and contributing a chapter on ‘The Reception of Blake’s Art in Germany and Austria: After 1900’ Dr Erle organised a colloquium at Tate Britain in June 2014 so that the project’s other contributors were able to meet and present first results. Dr Erle was awarded a Sabbatical by BGU in 2015-16 to work on her chapter, which required her to visit archives and galleries in Germany and Austria, and to carry out the bulk of the first round of editing.
Although bringing the project to a successful conclusion has been challenging, the rewards have been considerable, as Dr Erle explains:
“The expectation is to trace routes of transmission as well mediators of transmission. We had many email exchanges and Skype conversations to manage the dialogue between the different contributors as well as the different strands of Blake’s reception.
It has been a fantastic project to work on. I have learned so much and have met some wonderful new colleagues. As was to be expected, our contributors made a few discoveries. For example, we now know that Blake’s first destination in Europe was Russia”
On account of her work on Blake’s German reception Dr Erle has, over the past year, been invited to talk at the Museum Giersch der Goethe-Universität, Jüdisches Museum Frankfurt/Deutsche Bibliothek, Ben Uri Gallery, The Whitworth Art Gallery, Haus der Romantik and Lincoln’s Usher Gallery.
Furthermore, Dr Erle will be involved in a number of additional events to celebrate William Blake:
- 9 May 2019 – guest lecture in Nuremberg
- 10 May 2019 – guest lecture on ‘William Blake’s Reception in Germany’ in Erlangen
- 25-28 July 2019 panel on Blake’s reception, BARS (British Association of Romantic Studies), University of Nottingham
- 7 September 2019 Blake lecture, Lincoln Theological Society
- 17 September 2019 Launch of volumes with Morton D. Paley at BGU
- 18 September 2019 Talk on Blake’s The Illustrations of the Book of Job at the Tennyson Research Centre in Lincoln
- 19 September 2019 Launch at the Institute of Modern Language Research, Senate House, London
- 20 September 2019 Blake in Europe: A Symposium Tate Britain, Millbank, London, organised by Sibylle Erle, to coincide with the next major Blake exhibition at Tate Britain
- 11 October 2019 talk on Blake and Ludwig Meidner, Rylands Library, Manchester
- 6 November 2019 talk at BGU by Jason Whittaker (Head of School of English and Journalism; contributor to The Reception of William Blake in Europe) on Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’
The Reception of William Blake in Europe will be published by Bloomsbury on 21 February 2019. The project has also been generously supported by BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grant and MHRA funding.