1807: Blake, Slavery and the Radical Mind

John Opie, ‘Mary Wollstonecraft (Mrs William Godwin)’ c.1790–1
John Opie
Mary Wollstonecraft (Mrs William Godwin) c.1790–1

This special display helps mark the anniversary of the Parliamentary act abolishing the slave trade in the British empire in 1807. It focuses on William Blake (1757–1827) and the circle of radical writers and artists associated with the publisher Joseph Johnson (1738–1809) in the 1790s and 1800s. In Blake’s poetry, prints and actions we can clearly see his protests against the enslavement of Man’s mind and body which have continued to inspire generations of artists, writers and political dissenters. Including books, illustrations, prints and paintings, this display evokes the atmosphere of radical debate that helped shape his thought and gave impetus to the abolition movement.

See also

Tate 08 Series: William Blake: The River of Life

Tate 08 Series: William Blake, The River of Life; past Tate Liverpool exhibition. An intimate look at over 50 works ...

Alan Moore on The Ghost of a Flea by William Blake

Legendary graphic novelist, Alan Moore author of Watchman, talks about his relationship to William Blake's masterpiece.


The Ghost of a Flea by William Blake

Tate curator, Philippa Simpson, reflects on Blake's career and psychological state whilst painting The Ghost of a Flea.

Tate Britain Exhibition

William Blake: 'I still go on / Till the Heavens and Earth are gone'

3 Nov 2007 – 22 Jun 2008

Special display marking the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Blake.

Tate Papers

William Blake’s 1809 Exhibition

David Blayney Brown and Martin Myrone

This paper introduces the 1809 London exhibition that William Blake organised of his own works, exploring its high ambition and ...