British Library Finds 350 William Blake Etchings Stashed Between Books’ Pages

Art history students from the Manchester University got a chance to make their own contribution to art history as they spent the last two years parsing the collections of the school’s John Rylands Library, under the direction of scholar Colin Trott, and found 350 lost commercial etchings by the artist and poet William Blake. Many of the books between whose pages the etchings were discovered had been in the library’s collection since it opened in 1900, the Telegraph reports.

Many other works by Blake — who was a prolific engraver, often making images to accompany his poems — are in the library’s million-piece collection.

“The students had some specialist training in identifying the work and went through the collection,” Rylands Library archivist Stella Halkyard told the Telegraph. “They found out we actually had a huge number of commercial engravings by Blake… Engraving has always been looked down on as an art form, and commercial engraving more so. But he is a hugely influential figure whose artwork was ahead of his time and whose poems are taught in our classrooms.”

A selection of the rediscovered Blake etchings will be featured in an upcoming exhibition, running February 7-June 23, at the Rylands Library.

— Benjamin Sutton

(Image via Wikipedia Commons.)