William Blake was born on the 28th of November 1757 in Soho, London. He was a spiritual child and had visions of God and of the prophet Ezekiel. This spirituality remained with him throughout his life.
His education in art began at the age of ten, and when he completed his apprenticeship as an engraver at the age of 21, he was admitted to the Royal Academy of Art's Schools of Design, where he began exhibiting his own works in 1780.
Having established himself as an engraver, Blake began to receive commissions for his watercolours and he painted scenes from the works of Milton, Dante, Shakespeare and the Bible.
In 1800 Blake moved to Felpham on the South Coast to work with the poet William Hayley. In 1803 Blake found a soldier on his property and removed him by force. The soldier had Blake charged with sedition, claiming that he had damned the king, but he was acquitted in 1804.
Blake moved back to London and exhibited more of his works. These were not well received with one critic saying that Blake was "an unfortunate lunatic". The artist was devastated by these reviews and his work rate slowed.
In 1819, Blake began sketching a series of "visionary heads," claiming that the historical figures that he drew actually appeared and sat for him. He remained busy until his death on the 12th of August 1827 at the age of 69.
Underappreciated during his life, Blake has since been recognised as one of the pioneers of the Romantic Age.